DEL MAR — Del Mar Heights School has been selected as a Golden Bell Award recipient and will be honored at the 31st annual Golden Bell Awards program of the California School Board Association. The Golden Bell Award was won for the school’s Understanding Differences program. Program Director Jennifer Friedman, and Principal Wendy Wardlow, will accept the award on behalf of Del Mar Heights School Dec. 4 in San Francisco.
The Understanding Differences program was created in 2004 by parents and staff at Del Mar Heights School to provide in-depth instruction regarding wellness including disability awareness. Understanding Differences is innovative because of its three-pronged structure, spiraling curriculum that builds year after year, and integration of lessons on wellness, health, and environmental contributors as a basis for understanding disabilities. Kindergarten and fourth-grade students learn about motor disabilities, first- and third-graders explore vision, second-graders focus on hearing, and fifth-grade students learn about health and fitness. To culminate the program, sixth-graders focus on cognitive function, learning, and communication.
In the initial part of the curriculum, students learn about their grade level topic through scientific inquiry. Next, students are exposed to learning through simulation and experiential inquiry. The final components of the triangulated teaching model offers a venue for students to interact and learn directly from disabled community members.
The Understanding Differences program builds a foundation for understanding based on concrete scientific inquiry. Then, by understanding challenges through “walking in another’s shoes” children develop tolerance, empathy and compassion.