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Coming Together as a Community

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Community is one of our core values at CDS. We build community through all-school traditions such as Friday morning coffee before assembly, the Welcome Picnic and Grandparents and Special Friend's Day. We build community in our classrooms through student-created classroom agreements, and between preschoolers and eighth graders, and everyone in between, through our buddy program. And we build community through parent education because we know that parenting is a hard job and that sharing experiences and knowing that other parents face the same issues can make parenting easier and more joyful.

As I walked through St. Joseph's Hall this week and visited classrooms, I saw your children working on the classroom agreements that will define how they as a group want to be with each other this year. From preschool through the eighth grade, our teachers use Responsive Classroom techniques to build community and create a safe space for the children under our care. The Sequoias have agreed to "be respectful” and the Hummingbirds will "be kind and mindful of yourself and others.” Even the Teddy Bears all know that they should practice "safe bodies and walking feet.” Each of you signed the home-school agreement with your child and had the opportunity to talk with them about what at it means to be a respectful member of the community and what it means to feel safe to be oneself. All of the values that make up our home–school agreement are important to us.

Another way that we come together as a school community is around our yearlong theme. This year our theme is inclusion and kindness and our book for the year, Wonder, is a great read about kindness and the culture at an independent school. In the book, Auggie's teacher Mr. Browne has a precept for each month and September's precept is "When given the choice between being right or being kind, choose kind.” As part of our parent education opportunities at CDS, our book discussion group will take place after assembly this Friday, September 26 from 9-10 a.m. at the Boys and Girls Club. I hope you'll join us for this discussion.

As part of our strong parent education program, we are thrilled to offer an evening with Sheri Glucoft Wong on Thursday, October 23 from 5:45-7:30 p.m., who will present on Strong Communication, Healthy Relationships: How to Communicate with your Child to Build Self-Confidence and Promote Good Relationships. Our communication with children sets the tone for their self-image and for their relationships with parents, siblings, friends and others. Sheri will talk about the attitudes and practices parents can take on to support our children's emotional and social development and to encourage a positive family and school culture. Some of the issues Sheri will talk about include:

  • How to communicate in a way to promote resilience in your child
  • How to set effective limits with your child without being punitive
  • How to encourage cooperation and collaboration and to foster kindness, compassion and empathy
  • How to help your child navigate his/her own challenges and to communicate in a positive way with others
  • How to partner with other parents and the school to sustain community building and a positive school climate

Sheri Glucoft Wong, LCSW, is a family therapist, parent educator and consultant known for offering practical, useable tools for raising kids. Sheri has led workshops for Bay Area public and private schools for over three decades.

We strongly encourage at least one parent from each CDS family to attend this event. Because we are tight for space this year, we have arranged to use the chapel at Notre Dame Plaza for Sheri's presentation and childcare will be available at CDS. Please join us on the yard at 5:45 for cookies and lemonade. Sheri's presentation will begin promptly at 6 p.m.

I hope that you'll join us for the Wonder book discussion, Sheri Glucoft Wong's presentation and for our weekly Friday assembly and coffee on the yard. All of these events, big and small, bring us together and help us stay connected over the course of the year. Let's do as our fourth grade Hummingbirds do and be kind and mindful of ourselves and others.