September 17, 2015

“ Pick me! Pick me!”

4th graders on the Friends' School playground
From time to time, I invite a guest blogger to contribute in this space.  This week, Caroline Landry, Friends’ Director of Development, shares a story that you might not expect.  It’s not about the work she does in the Development Department, but about a completely different aspect of her job here at Friends’.  We ask that all of our administrative staff spend time each week on the playground with the children.  It’s part of our emphasis that we want all the adults here to know all of the children.  After returning from the playground on Tuesday of this week, Caroline was moved to pen these words:

Many of us, especially those who were typically last to be picked for a team (any team), in our elementary school years, remember this phrase all too well. We waited nervously as one by one, seemingly everyone else’s names were called. We waited, hoping we were not the last one chosen to play. “Dead weight” was essentially what it meant to be last.  All of our other attributes were forgotten when it came to picking teams.

On a typical recess day at Friends’, you will see students of all ages participating in an active and fairly competitive game of soccer or football on the grass field.  Today, I couldn’t help but notice a student, who has been here since Kindergarten. He is now one of the older, taller boys. In his earlier years, he had a tendency to become “animated” when the game didn’t go his way. He’s the kid who would definitely get “picked” to be on any team at any school. Over the past few years, I’ve watched him develop into a leader on the field, both athletically and in his positive influence over others. He is now one of the kids whom the younger ones come up to and ask if they can join in the game. Today, I watch as he puts his arm around them and alternates assigning them to one team and then the other. 

A few minutes later, someone else runs up and says “Which team?” A few of the older kids who are tracking the numbers indicate which team she should join. No one seems to really attribute athleticism, gender, or size, to the assignments. Even a Kindergartner can be goalie if he or she asks.

Guest blogger Caroline Landry
A few minutes later, I see a few of the players huddled around a little boy. I jog over to investigate. One of the boys was accidentally hit by the soccer ball. The game stops, a few kids crouch down beside him and ask if he’s ok. He soon brushes it off and gets back up, ready to play. Again, a couple of kids throw their arms around him for moral support and they all pick up where they left off.

There is a place for competitive sports. But in the brief 15-minute morning recess at Friends’, isn’t it great to see the skills and values that we hope students are learning in the classroom, played out on the field? Kids are inclusive, cooperative, empathetic, fair, caring and they are having fun.  

As the Development Director at Friends’, my role is to raise funds for the school. Why is Friends’ worthy of philanthropic support? How is Friends’ different from other schools? What will the students who attend Friends’ be like? Will a child who benefits from a Friends’ School education change the world? Many schools talk about the importance of social/emotional learning. At Friends’, the students, teachers and staff practice and embody these qualities, on and off the field every day.

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