We are excited to announce that Willow has joined Making Caring Common’s Caring Schools Network, a growing group of schools committed to ethical development.
Making Caring Common is an initiative developed by the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Harvard’s team of experts in moral and ethical development, empathy, social-emotional learning (SEL), and parenting has worked with families, educators, and communities to realize a vision very much in line with The Willow School’s mission. Making Caring Common aspires to help create a world in which children learn to care about others, treat people well day to day, understand and seek fairness and justice, and do what is right even, at times, at a cost to themselves. Making Caring Common believes that young people with these capacities will become community members and citizens who can strengthen our democracy, mend the fractures that divide us, and create a more caring, just world.
The Willow School shares this vision. It’s essentially what inspired founders Pearl Johnson and Mark Biedron to form our school in 2000: the idea that teaching children the importance of creating and nurturing ethical relationships with one another and the world at large, and empowering them to take action based on this ethical framework, is critical to developing the leaders of positive change that our world needs.
As a Caring Schools member, Willow now has access to research-based strategies and resources that support us as we further develop our culture of caring and empathy. These middle school-appropriate projects and lessons are a natural extension of our Virtues Program, and we are delighted to have the opportunity to incorporate them into our middle school advisory program.
Students have started to tackle “The Story of Us” lesson. In this project, students first identified values that are important to them. Values like equality, hope, courage, kindness, uniqueness, creativity, and perseverance were brought up by Willow students in these thoughtful discussions with their advisory groups. As a collective middle school community, students then discussed these values, discovering that they all value family, friendship, and kindness. Knowing what they have in common has helped students develop a strong foundation for their relationships with each other and their teachers.
We are looking forward to continuing the Caring Schools curriculum! You can support this important project at home. Check out Making Caring Common’s tips for raising caring kids.