Submitted by Ms. Kanter and Ms. Sussman
Three years ago we began our Third Graders Making a Difference program. It was born from the idea that it is never too early for children to think of others and to make a difference – both large and small; near and far. It was our hope that in doing so, students would realize that while at first we think we are helping because it will make others feel better, we soon realize that in fact, it makes us happy too! At the beginning of each month, third graders are introduced to a new group or topic that needs our help. They learn about who or what this group is, why the group needs our help, and how they – third-grade students – can help. Each project is child-centered and something that the students can take responsibility for carrying out.
This year, when we launched our September Third Graders Making a Difference project, we sensed a growing enthusiasm amongst the students. Perhaps it was because they had heard about it during the May assembly or because current 4th graders were talking to them about the fun they had during each month’s project. It’s hard to know, but what was clear was that the third graders met their new responsibility with a sense of purpose and excitement.
Students were asked to bring in used shoes to be donated to Soles4Souls, an organization that donates shoes to people around the world who are in need of shoes or who can use the shoes to start their own small business, thus providing themselves with much needed income. Within the first couple of days, smiling students were proudly bringing in bags full of shoes. They collected them from their own homes, other family members and even by asking neighbors to donate. By the end of the month, third graders collected a record breaking 503 pairs of shoes!
But it’s not just third graders at Dwight-Englewood who are making a difference, this is clear to see when you walk through the third grade hallway and see two trees that are full of leaves. At the end of last year, the third graders hosted an assembly at which they asked the entire Lower School to join them and make a difference during the summer. At the start of the school year, students were reminded of this request and were given a leaf to record their acts of kindness. The hallway display shows the many acts that were done by so many members of our Lower School community from the 3 year-olds to the adults. We are so proud to be a part of a community that thinks of, and values, making a difference in the world.