Recent Hike at Minnewaska
The first two weeks of school is always challenging and joyful. Even though we have all been in school in some form or another for most of our lives, the beginning of the year always brings with it excitement, energy and a renewed commitment to the important work of teaching and learning. At PDS, the work starts with a focus on building community. Our students need to feel safe, supported and comfortable before they are able to take on the academic challenges and the intellectual risks that we will soon be asking of them. To this end, we intentionally structure these first two weeks in such a way as to provide our students plenty of opportunities to build community, get comfortable with their advisors and teachers, and spend time connecting with each other. After yesterday’s hike, I am confident that we have made significant progress towards that goal.
The picture above is a perfect snapshot of why we take time to build community. For context; What you see is two sixth graders, one seventh grader, and an eighth grader sharing a moment on the hike where they were not separated by grades, or by age, but were able to be together as friends. They laughed, hiked, imagined, discussed, and had a wonderful time being with each other. I should also say that this group was not an exception, it was the norm. Up and down the trail, students mixed together, and shared this experience as one middle school. When we return to the Learning Commons on Monday, I am confident that we will do so as a closer learning community, ready for the academic challenges ahead.