Liz Walpert, TCEE Curriculum Coordinator and Educator writes:
When I found out that Loretta Claiborne would be one of the featured guest speakers at an upcoming TOS Talk and that Rabbi Sonia wanted the children of ARS to watch the movie of her life story, I jumped at the chance to develop curriculum around her visit and was confident that our third grade team would be able to tie it together for the children by emphasizing the key Jewish virtues of this important story. While we expected that the children would, for the most part, understand the basics of Loretta’s story, their empathy for her when she was bullied and treated cruelly, was truly uplifting.
The public schools offer children in the fourth grade the Understanding Our Differences (UOD) curriculum, an educational program that teaches understanding and respect for fellow students and others with physical, sensory or developmental disabilities. However, it’s impressive that even without yet being taught this UOD curriculum, our third graders instinctively felt Loretta’s pain. They felt her sadness and anger at being excluded from team sports and wanted Loretta to get what she deserved — a place on a team and the opportunity to follow her passion for running. They see Loretta as a modern day hero, much like the biblical heroes they have learned about in Hebrew school. They see her as someone who has overcome huge obstacles, succeeded in achieving her dreams and in the process, inspired others to do the same.
The children (as well as their teachers) are thrilled that Loretta will be visiting ARS while she is here for her TOS Talk. They have been preparing for her visit by working on questions to ask her and also, by raising money in her honor, for Special Olympics. Their enthusiasm for this topic is gratifying to me not only as their teacher, but as a member of this wonderful inclusive community. I encourage all of you to come and hear Loretta speak on April 13 at 7:30 pm as part of the TOS Talks Series. She is truly an inspiring speaker and a modern day hero!