National Civil Rights Group Recognizes Hanawalt Elementary For Tolerance Efforts

Abdi  GusHanawalt Elementary school has been designated a “Mix It Up” Model School by the Southern Poverty Law Center.  The school participated in the center’s Teaching Tolerance education project.

Hanawalt is the only school in Iowa to receive the honor.

The Southern Poverty Law Center is based in Montgomery, Ala., and is a nonprofit civil rights organization that combats bigotry and discrimination through litigation, education and advocacy.

Read their news release below.


MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Teaching Tolerance, the educational project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, has named Hanawalt as a Mix It Up Model School for its exemplary efforts to foster respect and understanding.

Hanawalt Elementary  is one of 76 schools from across the country and the only one in Iowa receiving the honor.

“In today’s polarized world, it’s refreshing to see schools that are doing extraordinary things to encourage students, faculty and staff to cross the social boundaries that so often divide us,” said Maureen Costello, the director of the Teaching Tolerance project. “By recognizing these schools and calling attention to their great work, we hope that other schools will follow their lead.”

The 76 schools recognized today were among the 6,000 schools that participated in Teaching Tolerance’s Mix It Up at Lunch Day Program, an effort to break down the barriers between students so there are fewer misunderstandings that can lead to conflicts, bullying and harassment. They will be recognized on the Teaching Tolerance website as Mix It Up Model Schools at

Teaching Tolerance’s Mix It Up at Lunch Day program began in 2002. The 2014 Mix It Up at Lunch Day will be held Oct. 28. Many schools plan activities for the entire day, and some schools use the event to kick off a yearlong exploration of social divisions.

Hanawalt’s school counselor, Mrs. Mireles, organized the first time event and encouraged students to plan ongoing events throughout the school year.  “We live in a world that connects us with people around the globe.  It is only right and just that we encourage a community-building effort to learn about everyone’s uniqueness,” said Mrs. Mireles.

Teaching Tolerance is dedicated to reducing prejudice, improving intergroup relations and supporting equitable school experiences for our nation’s children.

The program reaches hundreds of thousands of educators and millions of students annually through its Teaching Tolerance magazine, multimedia teaching kits, online curricula, professional development resources and classroom-friendly social justice documentaries. These materials are provided to educators at no cost.