Ms. Harrison's "Unique World Changers" are working together to improve school climate from the inside out! This class of Humanities Amped 8th graders at Westdale Middle School meet weekly to define the values they want their school community to live by, and they're starting with themselves. In the restorative justice circle that Ms. Harrison & Mrs. Cooper led at Westdale on Friday, November 1st, students sat in a circle with a centerpiece in the middle, passed the talking piece around as they opened with a poem entitled "Brave Spaces," and then reflected on the values they've chosen for themselves.
The students were asked to reflect on the values they've been living up to individually and as a group, which one they've been struggling to live up to, and also to imagine what is possible for their larger school community if they live up to their values. A deep conversation ensued about how changing ourselves is always the first step to changing the world. Students spoke honestly about the need to cultivate self-respect and the challenges of striving for achievement while also changing their learning environments together. As one student so eloquently explained, "I say achievement, because if the people around me aren't growing, I can't leave them behind. We've got to do it together!" The last student to speak into the circle summed up the group's mission: "The way that kids are, they follow what everybody else is doing. If we consistently live by these values, we can show everybody a new way to live."
Since these reflections, Ms. Harrison's students have agreed on a purpose statement:
Harrison's Unique World Changers' purpose is to inspire everyone at Westdale to contribute to a positive school culture through our leadership, integrity, and commitment to making a difference.
To meet this goal, the class has identified five action steps as a guide for their work next semester:
1. Demonstrate integrity in classrooms and all other school spaces.
2. Lead circles in 6th grade classrooms first and then 7th followed by 8th grade classrooms.
3. Lead role-playing activities for 8th, 7th, then 6th grade students.
4. Promote and support what is already happening at Westdale.
5. Evaluate how well we are achieving our purpose through these activities; reflect, and adjust.
Through their commitment to developing a positive school culture, Ms. Harrison's Unique World Changers are demonstrating what it means to amplify hope. If you would like to amplify hope along with us during this season of giving, please visit paypal.me/amplifyhope. Our fundraising goal is within reach because of your support!