October 25, 2012

The Word Is Out

Back when I was in high school, the long since forgotten Jermaine Stewart had his biggest hit, “The Word is Out”, featuring these memorable lyrics:

“You had to be the one to say it,
You couldn’t keep it,
Our secret, oh no,
All over town,
Everybody’s talking,
It ain’t no secret any more.”

Here at Friends’ School, we are feeling the same way. 

Announcements for our big Gratitude Project event last week with Dr. Christine Carter not only ran in Sunday’s Daily Camera, but were picked up by the news service Reuters, Business Wire and others.  It was re-tweeted by Book Worm News, Students Cloud and many outlets.  I received a phone call from a woman in Virginia Beach who runs a gratitude website called Thanking of You who would like to explore a working partnership with our school. The Greater Good Science Center of UC Berkeley has recently received a grant to create a gratitude curriculum for schools and is interested in the work we are doing at Friends'.

The Daily Camera is so intrigued by The Gratitude Project that they visited campus on Thursday of this week to talk to us about the Project.  We timed it so the reporter and photographer were here for our elementary Harvest Celebration. Friends’ has been celebrating harvest and making stone soup for each of our twenty-five years.  Clear evidence of the importance of gratitude to our school culture.  Look for the story to run in the Camera soon.

Following Dr. Carter’s presentation, the Gratitude Project story was picked up by a local blogger and featured in Boulder Families and re-blogged by others from there.  The story has been making the rounds on Facebook, including shout-outs on Dr. Carter’s own Facebook page which has a wide audience. The Raising Happiness website has created this special page entitled Thank You Boulder which includes “a big, warm thank you the Friends’ School for inviting me to speak in Boulder” and includes all sorts of great links and resources for our community.  If you attended the event (or even if you didn’t) and missed out on buying Carter’s book, there are links to buy signed or unsigned copies on this page.

It seems like the message behind The Gratitude Project is beginning to resonate to a wider audience. Before Dr. Carter graced the Unity stage last week to talk to a full house on raising happy and successful kids, she spent an hour with our faculty.  She encouraged them to help our students create a growth mind-set for themselves, rather than a fixed mind-set. 

It’s important for children to understand that intelligence is not innate.  It can be changed.  Intelligence can grow. It can be developed through clear instruction, hard work, and perseverance over time.  We should be expecting our children to expend effort and to achieve more and to learn. No matter who we are, we can become a great deal smarter.  One easy thing that teachers and parents can do is to praise our kids for the efforts they make, more than the results they achieve.  Our teachers encourage children’s efforts every day.

Friends' parents and students help me tell the story of Stone Soup
During the Harvest Celebration, students in Jennifer Shouse’s 3rd grade class created place mats for the tables where they ate a soup lunch with their parents.  The children had written a favorite quotation about gratitude on each place mat.  Layne’s mat read, “Some people grumble that roses have thorns, but I am grateful that thorns have roses.”  Layne explained to me that we can find something wrong with any situation, but there will always be something good about it and that’s what we should focus on.

In Liz Richards’ 4th grade class, students created a beautiful centerpiece, a paper vine with leaves where students had written what they are grateful for.  Michelle wrote “I’m grateful for an amazing life because life is really important to share and have fun while you can.”

Christine Carter echoes that sentiment.  Our children, and our Friends’ School community, are getting the message.  And word is spreading.

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