September 3, 2015

School Wide Theme: The Impact of Giving Back

Each year, Friends’ School picks a year-long theme which focuses our intention on our goals in social and emotional learning.

As well as setting goals for our students to exceed academically, we are invested in partnering with parents to ‘grow good people’. 

Last year our school-wide theme was mindfulness.  In the past we have chosen gratitude and other character traits.

Cultivating skills of emotional awareness, communication, resiliency, empathy and gratitude provide our students with assets for dealing with the inevitable challenges of life. Great care is taken by our teachers to teach and practice the skills needed to be a member of a community. This begins with knowing our own emotions and needs and how to express them appropriately. It includes recognizing and responding to the needs and emotions of others through empathy and seeing through others’ eyes. Ultimately, having effective strategies for connecting meaningfully with others develops an ability to problem-solve in all kinds of situations, often leading to inspired conclusions and stronger interpersonal relationships.

This year our theme is “The Impact of Giving Back.” 

You may recall that this was also the theme of last year’s White House Film Festival, in which our second grade class was an official selection and award winner.

The Film Festival and the message imparted in Diane Bramble’s class film ‘We Starts With Me’ resonated so powerfully with our staff and faculty that we selected the theme for our 2015-16 school year.

All year, our teachers will be exploring with their students ways that they can give back to our community.  What that looks like in a preschool class of three year olds will be different from what that looks in Liz Richards’ fifth grade class.

In our staff’s initial brainstorming session, multiple ideas were generated.  Everything from shoveling snow in our neighborhood to our whole staff volunteering together at a local non-profit; from helping at an animal shelter to volunteering at a residential home for seniors.  For our littlest community members, it may be something as simple as helping to clean up our campus.

Our teachers are interested in the concept of paying it forward and in the impact that giving back has on learning and developing brains.

Community service or volunteerism enables students to acquire skills and knowledge as well as provide a service to others who need it in some way. There are multiple benefits and gains from community service. Some of these benefits are:

psychological benefits: life satisfaction, feeling good about oneself, and decreasing stress

social benefits: students engaging with the community, creating special bonds with the population served, as well as increasing social responsibility

cognitive benefits: helping students to enhance their knowledge, earn new experiences, and develop new skills

Doing community service not only makes a difference to the organization being served, but also makes a difference on the individual students.

Our teachers are eager to get our kids involved and to hear their ideas.  We would love to hear from you.  We are excited for our school community to give back to the greater community in all the ways we see fit.

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