The Door County Civility Project has been recognized along with two other organizations and two individuals as 2017 Friends of Education.
“The willingness of those who volunteer to mentor our youth, develop their cultural roots, and give them solid foundations for becoming civic-minded adults means so much to our kids and the future of Wisconsin,” said State Superintendent Tony Evers in congratulating the 2017 Friends of Education. “These organizations and individuals make outstanding contributions to support children and young adults in our state.”
“We’re thrilled to have this focus be placed on civility,” said Shirley Senarighi, a member of the all-volunteer Door County Civility Project.
She explained that in 2015 project volunteers began working with Southern Door County School District staff “to develop simple activities and classroom discussion guides around each of the nine tools of Speak Your Peace to not only promote a culture of civility within schools, but also to prepare students with tools for future civil engagement, whether it be the workplace, military or as they pursue further education. The Civility Project’s work with Southern Door has resulted in a variety of high school student-led publications on civility, such as poetry anthologies, class projects, and yearbook themes.”
“We were very surprised,” said Patricia Vickman, superintendent of Southern Door Schools. “I said to Shirley, ‘Who nominated us?’ We don’t know. It was somebody at the state level.”
Vickman said the principles of civility espoused by the Door County Civility Project can be readily seen at the school.
“They’ve been instrumental in working with Mr. Bousley, our high school principal, not only in providing signage to include on playgrounds and in athletic facilities to remind parents and students of the importance of civility, but in particular developing a curriculum which did not exist anywhere.”
She added that the civility project has been a successful bridge between other programs and values at the school.
“It’s had quite an impact on our school,” she said, mentioning that the yearbook staff decided to dedicate the yearbook to civility, and students were encouraged to reflect on civility and choose motivational quotes to include with their senior pictures, and the AP English class published an anthology of poetry based the civility project, but she can see the tenants of civility in any aspects of the school.
While the project has been meaningful for the school, Vickman said the recognition for this all-volunteer group is very exciting.
“I am part of the [steering] committee,” she said. “These people feel strongly and passionately about the cause and what they’ve been able to bring to help organizations and community groups really have hard conversations and do something to really improve our community.”
“Members of the Steering Committee and volunteers with the Door County Civility Project are absolutely delighted to be honored as a Friend of Education by the DPI,” Senarighi said. “It recognizes not only the services and resources we have available to schools but to the wider community education effort of the civility project. It’s also a testament to the many individuals and groups that have endorsed civility in their school, business, church, civic organization, governmental body or family and have made that personal conscientious commitment to improve their own interactions with others – to stop, breathe, and think prior to speaking and acting.”
The others being honored with the Friends of Education Award at a Sept. 21 ceremony in Madison include:
- 100 Black Men of Madison Inc.;
- Thomas W. Boelter, education and culture director for the Forest County Potawatomi, Crandon;
- Maysee Yang Herr of Wausau, associate professor of education at the University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point; and
- Reach Out and Read Wisconsin: An Initiative of Children’s Health Alliance of Wisconsin.
The awards ceremony follows the noon State of Education address in the Capitol Rotunda on Sept. 21.