PELHAM, N.Y. -- Over the next several weeks, I will be visiting with groups of students, teachers, and the principal of each school to dig deeper into what their mottoes mean to them. I hope that you will have a better appreciation of the good work going on in our schools.
First Stop: Hutchinson School - Together We Can Make a Difference
My first stop began at Hutchinson Elementary School. Hutchinson’s motto, “Together We Can Make a Difference,” puts words and action to the very important 21st century skills of communication and collaboration.
Over pizza I met with the 12 fifth-grade members of the Hutchinson School student government, Dana Gentile, their adviser, and Principal Carla Tarazi. We talked extensively about what their motto meant to them and then how it tied to the Hutchinson School mascot, the bear.
Bear is more than just a mascot at Hutchinson School. B.E.A.R. is also a philosophy that synthesizes all that students must do to learn and be productive members of the Hutchinson School learning community. They must
- B e Safe,
- E ager to Learn,
- A ct Responsibly and
- R espect Others
Here are my takeaways from my visit at Hutchinson:
Our students talked about service at the highest levels. Whether it be fund-raising or volunteering time to beautify the school, donating toys for homeless children, volunteering at an animal shelter, writing letters for wounded veterans, or raising money to assist children in other countries with access to medical care, it was clear to me that these children knew how to pay forward and make a difference in the lives of others.
They had a deep understanding that they were part of a much larger whole and that their good intentions mattered at the school, local, national, and international levels.
At Hutchinson, the students I met with talked about the importance of being a good role model and how their “Wall of Kindness” makes a real difference in those who are less fortunate than they are.
I was impressed by how well they understood that B.E.A.R. governed the rules for the school. I was compelled by how well they articulated in their own words that following rules leads to greater respect, and that respect then leads to their ultimate success and what one student referred to as “pride in their hearts.”
It was humbling and exciting to leave a meeting with 10-year-olds who spoke so eloquently about the standard of excellence that these young people are setting for themselves.
Now who’s inspiring whom?
Stay tuned for my next post when I reflect upon what it means to “Step Up to Learning.”
Be sure to take some time to look through this site . We will be working on bringing you the information you “need to know” and is “good to know” throughout the year.
Peter Giarrizzo is superintendent of Pelham schools.
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