Tracey Shirey, Head of Lower School, shared the following recap with fourth-grade families:
On Friday we wrapped up another wonderful year of our Fourth Grade Leadership Institute. The focus this year has been on “Knowing thyself to better serve others” and we brought this to full fruition Friday at our retreat on Merrell Road. We began the day with breakfast (food is of utmost importance at retreats), an overview of the day, and an initial reflection on what we’ve learned about ourselves this year.
We then challenged the boys and girls with a lesson not on our strengths, but rather on our weaknesses and how to reframe them to elicit positive outcomes. Students learned that they can only control two things in a situation: their own actions and their own reactions to others. They cannot control others. And how they choose to react to others is a powerful thing that leads to either positive or negative outcomes. Personal stories were shared by teachers along with a video clip from Jumanjiillustrating how to turn a weakness into a strength. Teams then worked through problem-solving challenges in the gym led by our homeroom teachers and created their own avatars representing how they see themselves as leaders. You’ll see those coming home in the days to come. Prior to closing our morning activities, we reflected in our leadership journals and prepared snack bags and gifts for our 5th grade buddies.
Lunch with fifth grade buddies was an eye-opening event and very exciting for our students. For many this was their first exposure to the middle school dining experience, complete with dessert options and free rein at the salad bar and panini station. Our buddy groups then went to recess where they enjoyed the gaga pit and exploring both the chicken coop and quarry areas. The remainder of the afternoon was spent observing in fifth-grade classrooms and completing a locker challenge with their buddies showing them all they need to know about lockers. We punctuated our day with a beautiful 4th grade chapel in which Reverend Heller spoke about our unique gifts and how God wants us to use those as leaders. Will we be the kind of leader that pulls from the front, by our example, or the kind who pushes from behind, leading with judgement and without practicing what we preach?
A giant thanks to Mrs. Jonas, Ms. Bier, Ms. Wilder, Mrs. Novick, Mrs. Skelton, Dr. Holmes, Mrs. Beck, Reverend Heller, and Ms. Adams for helping guide and inspire our leaders. Their involvement and commitment to our program was amazing! A big shout-out also goes to Assistant Head of Middle School, Meg Fahrenbrook ’01, and her fifth-grade team for organizing a helpful first glance at middle school.
Your children were absolutely amazing Friday, showing the best version of themselves. They acted with kindness and grace, and they worked hard to synthesize all of their leadership learning. The maturity and poise shown at Merrell Road was a beautiful reflection of the work we’ve done together this year. This group will always hold a special place in my heart, and I’m grateful for the many opportunities we’ve had to learn from and with one another.
Thank you for your partnership this year as we strived to ignite lives of leadership in our fourth graders.