Sion is continuously working towards being a school of character, where adults embrace their critical role as models. Teachers work together as professionals—and with parents and community members as partners—to positively shape the social, emotional, and character development of the young people entrusted to them each day.
This is essential so that all students feel safe, respected, and connected to those around them, allowing them to thrive academically and socially and be motivated to give back to their communities. Guided by our mission, vision, and statement of diversity, we seek to build communities of belonging and caring within our school and beyond.
Making Caring Common
The last blog entry introduced our character education program, Caring at Sion, and I wanted to share an update on how we are making caring at Sion, common. The program started with our first kindness challenge week in October. As part of our daily challenges, we collected funds to help those impacted by the natural disasters. Thank you to your generous donations, we were able to donate a total of $902.04 to the "Estoy con Puerto Rico" relief fund through Catholic Charities. The video below shows highlights of the kindness challenge week at Sion.
As mentioned on the previous entry, our Caring Advisories started some weeks ago. Mrs. Esquivel has been meeting with students in grades 4-8 individually and sharing age appropriate seminars built from resources from the Making Caring Common Project from Harvard University, the Random Acts of Kindness Foundation, and the Teaching Tolerance project on bullying, friendships, respecting each other, diversity, equity, and inclusion, choosing kindness, the power of words, and others. Students in grades M-3 will continue to also delve into these topics with their homeroom teachers. The advisories will be further supported with the upcoming guest speakers, Mindfulness in Motion sessions and bullying prevention seminars (please see below), additional kindness challenges, and more.
Mr. Brian Corley & Dr. Kellie Corley - Save the Date (2/20)!
Mr. Brian Corley (ISACS Equity & Justice Committee, National SEED Facilitator, Founder and CEO of SingleStory, Inc.) and Dr. Kellie Corley (Educational Consultant) will be on campus to present on Tuesday, February 20. They will provide four hands-on 90 min workshops for students, faculty and staff, and parents as follows:
Grades 6-8- 9:15 - 10:45 am
Grades 4-5 - 1:00 pm - 2:30 pm
Faculty & Staff - 4:00 - 5:30 pm
Parents - 6:00-7:30 pm
Workshops for students will focus on the exploration of their multicultural-selves and identities, and how we can celebrate our differences without offending others. With this workshop, students will engage in a reflective intrapersonal exercise that helps them explore various aspects of their identity - ie. race, ethnicity, gender, ability, and religion. It will provide students with language to combat negative stereotypes and/or acts of insensitivities in a positive and productive way. This workshop aims to strengthen students’ capacity for greater sensitivity to the ways our actions and/or words can impact others regardless of intent.
Sessions for faculty and parents will focus on strengthening empathy as a way to foster positive relationships with others. Participants will begin to unpack events from their personal lives that influence the way they think, their beliefs, and values. Both groups will be provided follow-up activities for continued conversations with students, as well as toolkits for engaging in conversations about diversity and empathy.
The entire Grade School parent community is invited to participate in this wonderful workshop on Tuesday, February 20 from 6:00 - 7:30 pm. Refreshments will be served. I look forward to seeing you then!
Mindfulness in Motion
Research shows that mindfulness and yoga improve balance, strength, endurance, and aerobic capacity in children. Likewise, yoga and mindfulness offer psychological benefits for children as well. A growing body of research has already shown that yoga can improve focus, memory, self-esteem, academic performance, and classroom behavior. Further, it can also reduce anxiety and stress in children. More information on the mindfulness movement and how independent schools are incorporating it into the classroom can be accessed here.
Robin Cline, M.A., RYT, current Sion faculty member and parent, led mindfulness and yoga professional development sessions by level in November, to share how these can be incorporated into the curriculum, as part of our Mindfulness in Motion ancillary sessions to support our character education program, Caring at Sion.
Sion has been offering yoga as an elective as part of our middle school curriculum and after school Sion Academies since the beginning of the 2016-2017 year. As we continue to strive to providing students with the best well-balanced education, we will offer one 30-min mindfulness session per semester for all students. Mrs. Cline started with the 8th and 7th grades in December during semester exams. More information regarding the days, times, and the option to opt out of these sessions will be shared by grade level.
Bullying Prevention Seminars
Mr. Joshua Palmer, developmental psychologist and fourth-degree black belt will provide seminars on anti-bullying based on the ATA curriculum to students in grades 4-6 during second semester during seventh period. He will work on adapting some lessons for students in grade 7 and with primary teachers for students in grades K-3.
Together as a Community
Even though Mrs. Esquivel has been leading the Caring Advisory sessions, character education is a responsibility of everyone in the Sion community. As such, she shares the main terms (eg. upstander, respectful, compassionate, etc.) and definitions used during these sessions with all faculty to incorporate as essential questions in student homerooms and classrooms, to ensure that caring advisories result in meaningful learning.