When third graders give their first speeches at Fay, this milestone represents a larger journey that each student undertakes throughout Lower School to find his or her own voice and express a unique perspective about the world.
“The best way to write a speech is to write something personal,” says Head of Lower School Lainie Schuster. Fay students embrace that challenge by candidly sharing their stories, memories, successes, and failures in their own carefully crafted words. “Through writing our speeches and listening to one another, we learn so much about the members of our community,” notes Lainie.
The Lower School’s annual One School, One Book reading event is another important opportunity to spark deliberate conversations about perspective. Two years ago, Lower School students, teachers, and parents read Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin, a story about a child with high-functioning autism. “By the end of the book, we understood so much about the character of Rose and her life that everyone was able to put their opinions aside and see what a smart, sensitive kid she was,” says Lainie. “What better way is there to consider different lifestyles and worlds than through the lens of a book?”
To knit the Lower School community closer together, teachers Lara Gleason and Emily Samperi have created a community-building curriculum. They kicked off the program in September with an activity where each student was challenged to list all the different communities to which he or she belongs: for example, one student’s list might include the soccer-playing community, the Jewish community, the Hispanic community, and the Gleason homevisory community. Once each student completed the list, students were tasked with finding another member of one of their communities to connect with until the entire Lower School was linked. “The concrete act of linking ourselves together helped students to see how everyone here at Fay has a place in our community and a connection to someone,” says Emily.