Sunday, April 2, 2017

The crowd, the community, the connection

The Crowd. As parents and educators we talk a lot about hanging with the wrong crowd. How many times have I said "Well if Jim jumped off a bridge would you do it too?" in a moment of frustration when students aren't making good choices? Usually when we think of going along with the crowd we think of negativity but this week I have been truly smacked in the face with seeing students from the positive side of following the crowd. 

The Community. We, as humans, are all part of communities. For our students a community could be the school itself, their friend groups, their interests, their families. Most of us are in several different communities and our level of interaction within them varies based on our desires to be in association with others. 

The Connection. This past week was one of the busiest weeks I remember in a long time. I had various "big things" all come to a conclusion this week. First of all 6 fifth grade girls that have been working on a "Play to Learn" Playground STEM design attended the awards ceremony. At the ceremony we also learned that two of our high school girls had joined the high school competition to design a future school/learning space. Both teams came away with wins and the older girls pretty much ruled the competition they were in.
 As I drove home that evening I couldn't help but reflect on the fact that both groups spent a lot of time thinking about their designs from an empathetic heart. Our fifth grade girls designed a playground that would include people of all ages and abilities. Our high school girls imagined a repurposing of a warehouse our school has to bring private and public school students together to learn authentically while tapping into local community resources for learning opportunities. Our school is surrounded by a low income area and these girls had a desire to create cutting edge spaces not just for themselves and our school but they were also mission minded in their goals. I was blown away with the underlying empathy that just naturally flowed from both groups.  

On Thursday, I spent the day preparing for Chattanooga's first ever social event to support the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation...One Night for JDRF. As we planned all week for this event we realized we needed some volunteers to help it go smoothly. After contacting our community service director in our high school (Karen happens to be a Type 1 diabetic too), she found some girls to volunteer. There was nothing glorious about their jobs that night. They picked up garbage off tables and they walked back and forth endlessly to the silent auction table to help with the closing of the auction.
Another sweet girl took photos all night for us. They didn't have to do this. There was no gain for them except that they either have Type 1 diabetes or they are best friends with someone with Type 1. These girls were mission minded, empathetic souls that wanted to make a difference and support their friends. 

Saturday night the AP and Honors Art Students from our high school had an opening night of their spring collection of artwork that took place at a local art studio. These students took on the publicizing of this event (which is a whole other blog post) and the room was packed when I walked in. What I found amazingly wonderful was it wasn't just family there supporting their artistic family members, it was athletes supporting their artistic friends (just like those artists do when they attend sporting events.) Their was a sense of community in that crowded gallery that made my heart swell with pride. Our students have a great sense of supporting within their community. All week long I kept thinking, I'm so glad my own children have been part of this crowd! 

We hear a lot these days about the soft skills that will be needed for the future workforce. Those skills include but aren't limited to collaboration, communication, initiative, and social skills. I saw all these and more being modeled in our students this week and I am so thankful and proud of the community of CCS and the students we have. Bravo! 

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