Inspired, Compassionate, Involved

    Three little words. 

    No. Not those. 

    These three little words were chosen years ago at my school.  They encompass all that we hope our students can be, and all they will become. Inspired. Compassionate. Involved. Of course, our job as educators is to help kids learn reading, writing, math, science, and social studies. To show them the importance of art, music, and exercise in the creation of a balanced life. But our role doesn't end there. We also have a responsibility to do our best to elevate our students to greater things. Hence, those three little words.
    We've inspired our students by bringing in successful athletes, authors and artists to speak to classes and to work with them. Nick Hanson, who is known as the Eskimo Ninja Warrior, Nicole Johnston, one of the most successful athletes in the history of the World Eskimo-Indian Olympics, and Olympic cross-country skier Aelin Allegood, have spoken, done demonstrations, and taught at our school. Matt de la Peña, Tricia Brown, Mary Shaw and "String Man" David Titus have visited, reading their books and interacting with students. And one of the best things that happens regularly at our school is the Artist in Residence program, where a local artist spends two weeks at the school and works with students to create some form of art. Cartoonist Jamie Smith, painter Iris Sutton and glass artist, Margaret Donat are some who've spent time at Pearl Creek in recent years.
    Compassion is something that our staff works to instill in our students, through classroom lessons, thoughtfully selected literature, and special events. When the remote and isolated village of Kaktovik lost its school to a fire last spring, Pearl Creek's community came together to provide hundreds of books to start a new library for them, and a parent who worked for the Fish and Wildlife Service arranged for free delivery on a supply flight. Previously there had been a winter gear collection for the village of Savoonga, a coin drive for Becky's Fund, annual food drives to support the community food bank, a pet food drive for the local animal shelter, a Math-a-thon to support St. Jude's hospital, and another collecting special items for The Door, a shelter for homeless teens. 
    We have a school garden, and all classes find some way to become involved in spring-time planting and fall harvest, which then culminates in an annual Harvest Festival, which many people think is one of the best days of the year. One of our first-grade teachers has developed a relationship with the elders of the Fairbanks Native Association, which has evolved into a yearly schoolwide potluck, and an enduring friendship. Our school demographic is not terribly diverse, and is primarily white collar and privileged. It's so important for children who tend to have their needs met to recognize that there are many others who do not. We help them recognize that they can do something about the ills they see in the world, that they too can become involved.
    I have been so fortunate that three of my own children have been able to go through Pearl Creek Elementary. Not only did they get a great education, but I believe that it made them better people. After all, school is not just about teaching the traditional "Three R's." It's also about helping our students become the best people they can be, so that they can grow up to be caring and contributing human beings. 


  1. I love hearing about all the wonderful character education programs schools are doing with students. Kudos to you and your students for this excellent example Kristen.

  2. !! I so love school gardens and the impact they can have.


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