This was a ‘Model’ endeavor. This was not me. I couldn’t have done it without my team and teachers and staff.”
I read a story about a high school in Chelsea, Mich., where in 2017 there were two suicides and one student killed in a car crash, all within a couple months of each other. The students there, along with staff, decided they needed to do something to make sure every kid understood their self-worth.
I sent this off to a group of eight adults here at Model and said, ‘I want this to happen at Model. Do you think we can do it and make it elementary friendly?’ They all replied back, ‘Yes, we’re going to do it.’ And it went from there.
We journaled, and then we discussed, and in our committee of nine we talked about why each other matters to us. Then we took our journals and narrowed it down to one sentence: Why do we matter as individuals? We wrote our sentences, took our photos, put together a video, and launched it to the rest of the staff. We had other people participate in the video, too, including parents, the mayor, a retired first-grade teacher, the school superintendent. The staff then went through that same process. What we discovered in that process is that we even have some adults who struggle to identify why they matter. It gave us a head’s up on the adult mental health to a deeper level than just teacher stress.
From there, we rolled it out to kids, showed them the video, and had them go through the process. There were classroom discussions about why their peers matter to them. Then they reflected on their own #WhyYouMatter.
We took every single kid’s photo, as well as anybody else in the district who knew about it and wanted to come over and have their pictures taken. I have some friends who are teachers in Nigeria who sent me their pictures. We printed off each photo of each child and adult and hung them around our school. We had magnets and some shirts made, too.
Every single kid and adult wrote something different and beautiful.
We found kids who could not think of why they mattered. We were able to get them connected with our counselor and talk to parents.
We have an email set up, and people are sending us their picture with a #WhyYouMatter sign. There are other schools that have contacted us about doing this. One’s in Houston, Texas. There’s another one in New York.
The signs are going to stay up, and we are opening it up to the community this week in a very physical-distance world so that parents can come in and find their kids’ signs.
It’s been incredible. It’s been amazing. Much more has come out of this than we even imagined.”
Writing and editing by Scott Weisser and Neil King
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Do you have a story to tell about someone who contributes to Goshen’s greater GOOD?
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