Building Community

students pose with fall crafts

At Turning Point School, we hold dear several traditions that provide opportunities for our students to build meaningful relationships with others in their community—at home, at school, locally, and globally. In an ever changing world, it becomes more vital than ever for our children to develop and internalize qualities of empathy, cooperation, respect, and collaboration, so we purposely and thoughtfully build into our program opportunities to create and practice these skills.

It is no coincidence that two such traditions, our Family Night and our Family Event, contain the word “family” in the title, and some parents have asked me how the two differ. I have discussed Family Night in the past, which are “no homework” evenings intended to foster quality family time together at home. (Our next Family Night is next Monday, November 14.)

Family Events, on the other hand, are school-related events involving all students, faculty, administration, and staff. Everyone belongs to a Turning Point “family,” multi-age groups that come together once a month to get to know each other, work on a service learning project together, and learn more about Turning Point’s core values.

Family Events offer the opportunity to have fun along with learning about traditions and initiatives that are important to the Turning Point community. During these meetings facilitated by faculty and staff “elders,” our oldest students lead discussions and activities, helping their younger friends contribute their thoughts and express their creativity in a supportive environment.

Our youngest students love spending time with their “grown up” friends, and middle school students have a valuable opportunity to practice responsible modeling and build confidence in their leadership skills. It is inspiring to see the Level 8 students pick up their Primary friends each month and lead them to their Family’s gathering space. While many of our younger friends expressed some trepidation about leaving their corner of the school during September’s meeting, by November they eagerly await the arrival of their older buddies, and readily offer hugs and high-fives.

Our November Family Event took place this past Monday, with the goal of making students aware of the St. Augustine’s Volunteer for Emergency Services (S.A.V.E.S) Supply Drive. For several years, Turning Point has had a food drive to help families in our Culver City community experiencing economic difficulties. This initiative instills a tradition of giving in our students’ lives, and helps them internalize the importance of thankfulness.

During Monday’s event, each Family asked a middle school student leader to discuss the Supply Drive, and review the items requested. All Family members then shared their thoughts on what they are thankful for in their lives, and created messages of thankfulness—connecting us with our core values and our gratitude. Each Family then created a unique “display of thankfulness,” which parents are encouraged to view on the first floor of Building 1.

I encourage you to ask your children about the Family Event; what was meaningful and memorable to them, how they expressed their gratitude (expressing thanks for family and parents was a universal theme!), and how they feel about the other members of their Families—many of whom they do not see or spend time with on a regular basis, yet form close bonds with during these events.

As always, I welcome questions and feedback about our Turning Point traditions, and would love to hear how your children describe their experiences. As Thanksgiving approaches, I am very grateful to be part of a community that values reflection and creates a dynamic space for us all to learn and grow in so many important ways.

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