by Amara Sardelli, AmeriCorps member serving with the Grew Elementary School
While most Elementary Schools have values and virtues that they expect students to embody, in my mind the Grew Elementary school really takes the expectations of these virtues to another level. The Grew emphasizes 4 key virtues: empathy, curiosity, collaboration, and perseverance.
Every few months, the school puts emphasis on a different virtue. Currently, the Grew is highlighting the virtue of curiosity, which is particularly fitting since Grew scholars are known around the school as “Curious Cougars” (a cougar being the school mascot). One teacher at the Grew celebrated curiosity in the classroom by allowing a time for students to ask any questions they were curious about, whether academic or not. Students asked a wide variety of questions, ranging from, “Do people have wolves as pets?” to, “What is studied in high school and college?” The teacher then posted these questions and ponderings in the classroom to remind students to keep up their curious nature.
The school, along with City Year, supports these virtues as a whole by making bulletin boards every few months that feature at least one student in each classroom who exhibited the virtue that is being highlighted at that time. To make students feel special, the bulletin board features head shots of the students being celebrated along with blurbs about how they have shown the highlighted virtue. By celebrating students’ successes, the Grew is able to truly hold students accountable to the Grew virtues and therefore create a positive culture of learning.