A sense of belonging and connection make up the foundation that our entire program is built upon. Our teachers, leaders, support staff, parents and students see themselves and each other as valuable, contributing members of a thriving community. We use circle practices to help our students hone the skills of speaking and listening from the heart. At the lower grades, we use the Morning Meeting and Closing Circle routines offered by Responsive Classroom www.responsiveclassroom.org Students learn to greet one another, to share about their lives and to celebrate one another’s successes.
As our students get older, we use a more organic form of circle conversation, Council www.circleways.org Council, which at its core is a heightened awareness of self and other, is an opportunity for students to hear about each other’s lives, thoughts and beliefs. Circle practices ask students to listen compassionately as others speak and to imagine experiences different from their own. This is the core of empathy. Even when students are connected and skilled at listening and speaking, they are still learning about the world around them, and about the effect their choices have on themselves and on others.