We focus often on how teachers inspire students to achieve their full potential, and while that scenario is certainly common, it is equally true that students often inspire their teachers. Every educator will tell you that students can and do surprise and delight them on a regular basis.
The seventh-grade team, for example, can point their collective finger to one student who has gone above and beyond to demonstrate her personal passion for the environment.
Addie Brown (7) has taken her interest in sustainability from a curious learner to a passionate advocate. After being schooled in green living both at home and at Graland through our sixth-grade science curriculum, the next step was making her own lifestyle changes and spreading awareness about how everyday actions affect the environment.
She met this challenge with ease and quickly gained the support of her teachers. When Addie approached science teacher Steve Collins with an idea for a sustainability presentation to her class, he was immediately on board. “I was reminded of the Middle School assembly in January celebrating Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. when the speakers emphasized the idea of ‘call’ and ‘response,’” shares Mr. Collins. English teacher Kelly Gaudet worked with Addie outside of class to put her “call” onto paper and to hone her writing into a final presentation for her peers in Grade 7. After she spoke, several students came up to her to ask more questions.
“She had peaked their interest and generated a positive ‘response,’” says Mr. Collins. She later presented to the sixth grade, and eventually to the entire Middle School at an assembly.
Inspired by the feedback from her peers and encouraged by Christi James, service learning coordinator, Addie applied to the National Youth Leadership Council for a spot in the exhibit hall at the 2018 National Service-Learning Conference in St. Paul, Minn. Surrounded by the conference theme, Justice in Action, she was able to demonstrate and display her learning about sustainability for other conference attendees.
“Addie believes that one person can make a difference,” says Beth Gaffga, Addie’s advisor and history teacher. “It is inspiring for me to see a student care about an issue, research it and act on it. This is how students can change the world little by little.”
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.