30 Things I’m Thankful For

During the month of November, our lower school community is practicing “30 Days of Gratitude”.  This 30 day focus is an intentional way for us to dive deeper into our gratitude practices as we’ve set gratitude as the theme for the complete school year.  A recent email from our wonderful school counselor, Chelsea Freeman, to our faculty about gratitude has inspired me to brainstorm 30 things I’ve seen in classrooms and around the school that stir gratitude within me; gratitude for this place, the students and families we serve, and the amazing teachers who are doing amazing things “in the trenches” each day.  Typically, brainstorming 30 items of any topic would be a challenge for me, but not when you have the job I have. It’s been truly humbling this year to visit classrooms, watch our lower school teachers in their craft, and coach a group of educators who honestly teach me more than I could ever teach them. Here are 30 snippets of awesomeness at the lower school that fill my heart with gratitude.

  1. Art Science and it’s beautiful blend of creativity and the scientific world

“This is a beautiful flower!”

-PK4 student as he admired his own work in Art Science

2. The sense of community and belonging fostered in classrooms through daily Responsive Classroom practices

Students in Ms. Touchstone’s class greet one another during Morning Meeting, a beautiful time of every student’s day.

3. Student masterpieces serve as our wallpaper.

4. Students aren’t afraid to step up to the challenge of leadership.

4th Graders guiding 1st graders in a review of our school-wide rules

5. Dedicated staff who pour their time and energy into working with students

Polly Bourne, one of our many amazing assistant teachers, leads a group in math practice

6. Student-directed classrooms foster ownership, choice, and responsibility of one’s own learning.

7. Students think it’s a party when really it’s a wellness lesson!

8. Intentional lesson and activity planning by expert teachers build skills necessary for our students to succeed.

What looks like a simple art activity is intended to build fine motor skills in PK classrooms.

9. Students collaborate and share ideas to support their friend’s learning.

In Mrs. Hardy’s class, students worked together to support each other in building number sense while understanding regrouping.

10. Students having a blast while learning

“I can’t wait to be in the play!!”

-PK4 student as her teacher tied her scarf as part of her costume for the retelling of La Tortuga

11. Writers’ Workshop provides rich instruction while building confidence as writers.

Students in Mrs. White’s kindergarten class couldn’t wait to share their stories with their friends!

12. St. Andrew’s teachers motivate students as they demonstrate passion and enthusiasm about their topics.

Senora Buford enthusiastically leads her students in a game of Simon Says…in Spanish!

13. Amazingly beautiful classroom spaces

Who wouldn’t want to spend all day in a space like this? The vaulted ceilings, natural lighting, and artistic resources along the walls make this Art classroom space ideal for exploration and creation.

14. Teamwork: Teachers at St. Andrew’s plan and collaborate together to integrate across subject areas.

After a lesson in class on choosing “just right books”, 4th graders extended their learning on the topic with Mrs. Dutro during their library time.

15. Watching students journal about math…and LOVE it!

When visiting Mrs. Maples 1st grade classroom, students transitioned to journaling after math stations. I overheard one student say, “I love math! This is fun.”

16. Students in some classes learn from other children all over the world.

Second graders in Mrs. Doggett’s class video chat with friends from their partner school in Ghana.

17. St. Andrew’s teachers are dedicated to meeting students where they are.

First grade teacher, Mrs. McArthur, meets with her students in small groups regularly to lead them in math activities that are tailored to their needs.

18. St. Andrew’s teachers have the courage to try new things.

Beth Peterson leads her class in an interactive lesson on the new Smart panel in the i2 classroom.

19. If I’m having a rough day, I can hang out in a PK classroom, and instantly my heart is full.

20. Daily hugs, high-fives, and handshakes, also known in our community as “H, H, or H”

Mrs. Sewell’s students greet one another with enthusiastic high-fives!

21. Student support staff who have a dedication and passion for students, faculty, and families like I’ve never witnessed before.

Working alongside the other 5 ladies in this picture is an honor. Each one cares deeply about the needs of this community, and they clearly know how to have a good time on Halloween (dressed as the emotions from the movie Inside Out).

22. Opportunities to lead students in innovative work

Julie Rust and I had the fun privilege of leading an “Innovation Station” at the 4th grade retreat where students collaborated to create and innovate using limited resources to build structures.

23. Teachers who love to get down and have fun with their students

Kindergarten teacher, Summer Keane, is known to have a little fun with students during movement and brain breaks. These moments are a blast to watch!

24. Students’ hopes and dreams are considered when creating classroom rules that help everyone achieve their goals for the year.

25. Student talent is showcased on a regular basis.

26. Weekly time together as a community in Chapel

27. Outdoor learning spaces

28. Creative projects in classrooms promote problem solving, critical thinking, and collaboration.

Mrs. Freeman and Nurse Wadlington kick off a fourth grade unit on wellness in which 4th graders will choose topics to complete their opinion essays and then lead the direction of their final product for an authentic audience to promote wellness in our community.

29. Buddy classes build community and lasting bonds across grade levels.

Buddy classes meet regularly to read together and participate in fun activities, building friendships while giving older students opportunities to lead and mentor.

“Hey, I know you! You’re my buddy!”

-Kindergarten student to my 3rd grade child as we all crossed paths in the hallway after school

30. Teachers engaging students daily in rich conversations about their learning

I’m truly grateful for the whole-school perspective that my role provides. I come to work each day witnessing passionate, dedicated teachers pouring their hearts into their work. I interact with children who are way cooler, smarter, and more creative than I ever was at their age. I partner with families and get to work on support teams that help students progress and reach goals. I bet you’re thinking, “Man, she really loves her job”. You are correct. How could one not love this type of work?! You may also be thinking, “Man, this is a long blog post”. Correct again. I clearly have a lot to be thankful for thanks to all of you.

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