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A Strong Sense of Community

Friday, November 9, 2018

Recently I enjoyed spending a little time in Paige’s Middle School humanities classroom. Middle School humanities links social studies and language arts with elements of reading, writing, geography, history, debate, and social justice. Cara, Levita, Joseph, and Paige in grades 6, 7, and 8 center each grade’s curriculum on a theme: Origins & Myths (6th), Ways of Seeing (7th), Voices of Change (8th). While Paige’s 6th graders took instruction on the process of revising their writing, Paige moved around to consult personally with students including some conferencing on the porch.

Seeing Burgundy students regularly doing academic and co-curricular work indoors and outdoors is utterly normal here, but it’s also a reminder of the many ways that our campus itself is a blessing and best classroom.

But the first asset we share at Burgundy is a strong sense of community. Teachers all year, but especially at the start of the year, work hard to facilitate experiences through which students can reflect and share with one another and their teachers who they are, thereby building trust, rapport, and connections that sustain their academic and personal growth together. One of many excellent exercises undertaken in Middle School is a "Where I’m From" poem. The lovely example below, from newly minted Middle Schooler and 6th grader Ellie Wilson, is a particularly nuanced, insightful, resonant poem! Thanks to Ellie for allowing me to share it.

One final, quick postscript on the Papa John’s Pizza Question:

I want to say publicly that I am very proud of our 8th graders. Having selected Papa John’s Pizza for this year’s pizza sales, they heard concerns and they subsequently met to consider options and made an informed and best decision for themselves and for this community. They understood that no decision would be ‘best’ for every person in the Burgundy community, but that there might be a right or best collective decision in terms of what reflected the overall school and community mission and values. For the record, once the conversation was enjoined, I made it clear that the school officially would support them regardless what decision emerged. That they made a decision after carefully reasoned discourse should make us proud -- and optimistic for them -- regardless of the substance of the decision!