Helping is intrinsic to what we do in Montessori, it’s why we have mixed age classrooms, why we have collaborative work time, it’s why we value independence so much.
— Clare Heath, Educational Director
Ghandi, Martin Luther King Jr., Eleanor Roosevelt, Wangari Maathai, Thich Nhat Hanh…what do these people have in common? Why are these people famous? This is what we asked Elementary/Middle School students at one community meeting. Our students came up with lots of answers, but we were able to boil it down to something really simple: Helping.
Each of these people dedicated his or her life to helping others.
We explained that our community needs help too.The school Nurse needs help packing first aid kits, our Admissions Director needs help with parent tours, our early childhood and Lower El kids need help learning to read…and so much more! When we asked the children if they would be willing to help, the response was almost deafening, “Yes!” And each day since that meeting the children have shown us their eagerness and passion for helping one other.
Helping is intrinsic to what we do in Montessori, it’s why we have mixed age classrooms, why we have collaborative work time, it’s why we value independence so much. I still smile each time I watch my three-year old son, with a scrunched up brow, zip his jacket and then smile up at me. He is able to help himself and from that practice and confidence, he will soon begin to be able to help others.
We have always helped each other at Chiaravalle but after launching our service learning initiative helping is becoming contagious. Let me share just a few things I have witnessed in the past few weeks. A knock on my office door from a member of the Green Team, “Can I please put this on your garbage can?” And a minute later I have a beautifully decorated sticker that says, “Landfill” on my garbage can. I can’t walk past a group of Lower El kids without quickly becoming surrounded by children wanting to know if I have assigned them a reading buddy yet. And after a prospective parent asked one of our 6th year student ambassadors last week, what she liked about our school. She reflected, “I love Chiaravalle because it’s diverse and we accept each other.”
We are all in service to one another.
by Clare Heath, Educational Director