This year’s Lower School theme is such a simple and effective message for people of all ages. Lower School Division Head Bridget Henderson says it is a theme of joy, community and belonging – all of which are a part of the foundation of the Episcopal experience.
“Our yearly theme is something that ties us together as one community working toward a common goal,” says Henderson. Even though the school year has only just begun, Love Your Neighbor has already been embraced by everyone from PreK-3 to fifth grade. Check out the video below to hear students discuss what it means to Love Your Neighbor.
In many ways the yearly Lower School themes serve as a starting point for everything from recess conflict resolution to Morning Meeting management. Henderson says the tradition started eight years ago with the first theme - Joy is All Around. Each year a new theme is selected by a group of Lower School faculty who hope students see the theme as a call to action.
Looking around the Episcopal community it is easy to see that the Love Your Neighbor theme is already in action. In Lower School, the responsive classroom approach encourages students to be respectful of themselves and others. Henderson says the approach is important because it fosters a better learning environment in which students can thrive. According to research conducted at the University of Virginia on the responsive classroom approach, students do thrive with “higher academic achievement, improved teacher-student interactions and higher quality instruction.”
The Love Your Neighbor theme also fits well with the Episcopal commitment to service learning. Last school year’s Upper School students performed approximately 800 service learning projects for Baton Rouge neighbors and beyond. Students took part in Habitat for Humanity builds, volunteered at Thrive School, the Louisiana School for the Visually Impaired, the Shepherd’s Market Food Pantry and even organized a hurricane relief drive for victims of hurricane Harvey in Texas. In Middle School each grade level united together for a common service learning project for the annual Field Day event. Students generated more than $4,000 to support the Water for South Sudan project, Friends of the Animals and Support Our War Heroes.
At the heart of an Episcopal education is a mindset that we are created to “strive for justice and peace among all people and (to) respect the dignity of every human being.” Episcopal schools ensure that all who attend are challenged to build lives of genuine meaning, purpose and service in the world they will inherit. Love Your Neighbor is a great place to start!