One of Roots Community School’s Core Values is “We Honor Others”. We care for each other and the world. We cultivate helpfulness, cooperation and loving-kindness. What does that mean and what does it look like in action in our daily lives? Too often organizations’ mission/vision/values seem to get buried and become just another document that’s filed away. Roots teachers, staff and board members frequently revisit these words that we created and ensure we are on course and actively working to uphold this in our daily lives.
To honor others and care for each other means actively thinking of others during our planning process and our school day. Teachers consider each other’s needs as well as students needs when laying out daily schedules. Students have jobs which may include sweeping, removing trash, disinfecting surfaces and other cleaning/organizing tasks to keep our school tidy. Community is built during this time and students learn valuable lessons in cooperating and helping each other. If a student is absent, often their fellow students will complete the extra job instead of leaving it undone or expecting the teachers to complete it.
Honoring others and caring for others happens in many subtle ways in the daily flow. It may be offering a seat to another student, sharpening their pencil, noticing a jacket on the floor and picking it up or allowing a younger student to come up in line instead of having them stand at the back. We don’t pretend that our students are perfect and they always make these kind, cooperative choices, however we do cultivate this mindset in our classrooms and in our own actions to all do our best!
Roots has a multi-age classroom structure, allowing relationships to form between older and younger students. This allows older students the opportunity to be mentors and builds helpfulness and empathy. It also naturally teaches younger students behavior expectations and builds their confidence. Older students model this behavior and younger students naturally strive to be like their mentors. In larger school events, younger and older students will naturally pair up or form groups and our youngest learners have a wonderful, uniquely supported place to grow and participate in activities. Multi-age learning environments also mean older and younger students can collaborate during recess, creating more of a family atmosphere instead of having students all the same age or developmental level. This certainly lends to cultivating helpfulness, cooperation and loving-kindness.
Field trips allow students to learn about our world and how to care for it in a very tangible way. We may learn about pollination and bees, ecosystems, forestry, erosion or we may pick up trash in our community as an act of service. The ability to get out into the world and participate in a meaningful way helps our students be a contributing part of this community instead of feeling disconnected from the outside world.
Community outreach is also a way we honor others. Roots students make and deliver artwork to our local community without the expectation of getting something in return. Having students deliver to local businesses and understand why we are doing this is an integral part of cultivating helpfulness and loving-kindness in our students. Students have also completed activities with the Senior Center and local Assisted Living Facility as an intergenerational connection and a way to care for our world. These activities are mutually beneficial and allow students to connect with older generations, understanding the value they have in our community as well as giving students a chance to serve others.
In short, Roots Community School strives to uphold our core values on a daily basis. One of our core values is “We Honor Others – We care for each other and the world. We cultivate helpfulness, cooperation and loving-kindness”. This is just one part of our aim of a holistic, realistic education which cultivates generations of humble, tenacious and innovative learners that enrich this valley and the world.