Gratitude…At Home and In the Classroom

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As we roll in to the month of November and lessons and discussions about early Native Americans, colonial settlers, and Thanksgiving traditions abound in the classroom, this is an excellent opportunity for us all, students, staff, parents, families and our school community at large, to reflect upon the concept of “gratitude,” and to consider the ways in which we can ensure that thankfulness is not isolated simply to the month of November.

As I walk through the classrooms, halls, and grounds of Belmar Elementary School and attend the myriad athletic and extra-curricular events that are a rich part of our school tapestry, I have become more and more aware of how truly appreciative I am for being a part of our wonderful school community and how the relationships I’ve developed with students, teachers, staff, parents, and families have grown and developed into very special connections that I am confident will endure for many years.  I’ve also become conscious of the fact that nurturing this “attitude of gratitude” is an action, not simply a feeling.  It takes time to reflect, to purposefully focus on the many positive things happening in our lives, to mindfully turn away from negativity.  Even with my own children in college and high school, my personal time can be fraught with busy schedules, grad school, making dinners, and attending evening events.  How do we recharge our batteries and refill our own “buckets?” How can we support our students in engaging in this same practice?

In a 2008 research study published in the Journal of School Psychology, counting blessings as part of a classroom practice was associated with enhanced self-reported gratitude, optimism, life satisfaction, and decreased negative affect (Froh, Sefick, Emmons).  Knowing that students are faced with social and emotional challenges throughout their adolescence, it behooves us to increase opportunities for them to experience gratitude-inducing experiences.  These can include daily journaling with a focus on appreciating the people and things we have in our lives, meal time practices of expressing gratitude for small moments in our day, classroom morning meetings which incorporate activities for thanking our peers for their friendship, and other teachable moments that increase positive behavior and feelings of satisfaction.

So before we break for Thanksgiving recess, before we gather with our family and friends for a bountiful meal, let’s all take the opportunity to count our blessings and say Thank You….every day….throughout the entire year!

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!
Lisa Gleason, Principal


Welcome Back

school picAs we prepare to kick off the beginning of the 2015-16 school year, I’m certain that our students are experiencing many emotions….excitement for new teachers and friends, melancholy for the end of summer vacation, perhaps apprehension about the unknown in the upcoming grade level, to name just a few.  I think back to my own childhood, remembering how September would bring much ado with new school clothes, book bags, lunchboxes, and the anticipation of the homeroom assignment letter!  While much may have changed in the educational landscape with new standards, teacher evaluation systems, PARCC assessments, and the like…much remains the same.  I sincerely hope that this time finds your child filled with hopefulness for the new school year, that our families are winding down this summer with the not-too-distant memories of a wonderful summer, and that each and every one of our students comes back to school knowing that our staff of passionate educators is ready and waiting to help make a difference in their lives.

We are INSPIRED, UNITED, PREPARED…..Soaring to Excellence!

See you on September 8th!

Lisa Hannah, Principal