Grade 2 Students Learning to Build Our Wall of Service

“I wanted to play the piano for a nursing home. But they never answered my call. So I went around my block giving Christmas cookies out. I did this because I wanted to spread Christmas spirit.”

KCS Student Donation to Bloorview Children's HospitalOther grade 2 students cleaned up local parks, read to kindergarten students and collected donations of various worthy items. Some did chores to donate money. Unlike the young man who didn’t hear back from the nursing home, one student was lucky enough to spend time volunteering and singing Christmas carols at a seniors’ residence. For every grade 2 student, there is a heartwarming story of service.

In late fall, the grade 2 students at KCS are officially introduced to the expectation that they, as individuals, are expected to make a difference. Though this message is shared with all students from PK, and we have many younger students earning bricks for the Wall of Service, the grade 2 unit on service is the first time they’re all expected, on their own, to think of how to make the world a bit better and then make it happen. With much gratitude from us, parents are asked to help make their child’s plan possible. Hearty discussions, problem-solving, and persisting no doubt went into much of this activity, just like it does in any important work. At the end of the effort, the students shared in a writing assignment what they did and how they felt for all their efforts. Emphatic expressions of happiness were the widespread reply. One further explained, “It made me feel good to give instead of take.”

KCS Student Spends Time at a Seniors’ ResidenceEach grade 2 student received a ‘brick’ for their act of service, and each has now been called up at assembly to share what they did, for which they received loud applause. By telling the school about their collective efforts, the whole KCS community continues to grow in its knowledge of how each one of us can follow their lead (there’s no end to the ways we can each make the world a bit better!).

Thanks to the grade 2s and others who earned bricks recently, KCS is looking forward to a dress-down day on April 17th. More importantly, thanks to the grade 2s and all others taking the initiative to make a difference, the world really is a bit better for many. Most importantly, with this unit behind them, the world now has 40 more individuals who are ready and able to keep making a difference.

According to one write-up, one woman at a park, upon seeing two students cleaning it up, said “That’s amazing. Way to go!” We agree.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.

Where Lie the Rewards

KCSWe have our Wall of Service, Wake Up With the Arts, ‘Save that Species’, ‘Free Hugs and High Five Fridays’, Compliment Friday, and House Captains who are second to none. We have four more championship banners, top three finishers in the local Royal Canadian Legion Remembrance Day Art Contest, and a third place finish out of fifteen schools in the regional First Lego League robotics contest. We have over a dozen students writing books – yes, books to be published – through our YAKCS program. We have data showing the tremendous progress our students are making with our new reading program. We have all of this, and so much more.

With choice, patience and persistence, great things grow. If you choose carefully what’s worth sticking with, and nurture it along the way, you’ll reap the rewards widely sought but seldom found.

There’s plenty we’re working to improve at KCS, because that’s what we do here. But this has been an outstanding term and it’s time to step back, and notice what’s working, and why. Here’s a sampling of what I mean:

The House Captains – They used to be elected, then appointed. When neither of those models worked to our satisfaction, we had none at all. Then it occurred to us that the best way to find great House Captains was by having them go through a three-part application process, including the expectation that they teach a game to our primary P.E. classes. Now we have House lunches, House Days, House cheers, House spirit items, and numerous spirit-raising events such as the recent ‘Name that Celebrity’ contest. The House Captains bring joy beyond what we could have imagined.

Wake Up With the Arts – This emerged from a desire to make more opportunities for performance, and particularly opportunities with less pressure and more freedom for responsible risks. The idea was to have live performances from willing students in the foyer, with a backdrop of student artwork, complemented by coffee and muffins for those parents who could stop and enjoy some culture at drop-off. In its early days, we had about four or five performers, and a small audience. Now in our third year, our latest performance lineup was so long it went past the bell to get to class, and will spill over into an ‘Open Mic’ session in the near future. The audience was at capacity for our spacious front lobby. And the mix of musical performances made KCS the most heartwarming place to be in Toronto.

The Wall of Service – We came up with the idea of recognizing and spreading word of student acts of service twelve years ago. The process evolved over a number of years and it continues to gain momentum. Now we have a backlog of bricks to share. Students from SK to grade 8 are making the world better in countless ways and educating the school community as they do so, thanks to this program.

Everything we do has a story that’s rooted in choice, patience and persistence. Some of these things are now pretty great. Others are on their way there.

Choose carefully what’s worth sticking with, and persist in nurturing it along the way. There’s lots of room for schools to do so. The rewards we seek lie there.

Andrea Fanjoy,
Assistant Head, Academics
You can follow Andrea on Twitter @afanjoy.