Building from the Heart
by Bev Ogilvie
For a long time, I have been attempting to open doors and break down walls, nurture the courage and conviction to create change and transform school communities. Much of my focus has been on the importance of a balanced education system that emphasizes the head and the heart. A system that teaches to be fully human, we must feel. A system that embraces the notion of safe schools as human schools. A system that safeguards the 3 Cs in children: capable, connected, care. A system that expects us to teach children compassion, acceptance and tolerance.
Through this website, it is my intention to engage different voices in a creative and generative process. This process will allow a broad range of people to co-construct the organization or system they inhabit, step up, be more than yourself and share your story online. The future of persons, schools, communities, businesses, and nations is at stake. We need to advance together, establish relationships and build teamwork. We need to build ConnectZones.
Here is my story
After presenting a workshop with two of my colleagues about building resilience and hope in schools, the three of us met to debrief the conference and plan how we could bring our ideas to fruition in our school district. On a napkin already greased by remnants of our nachos, we sketched what ‘Project Hope’ would become in one of our schools. The project identified 25 vulnerable families from the school community that needed extra support. As part of our plan, we provided professional development for the staff on fostering resilience and connectedness in children and youth. As well, we offered parent workshops and sessions for community members.
Essentially, we focused on relational means to foster resilience by connecting children and their families to adults both in and outside the school. In a very short period of time, we noticed there were fewer referrals to the office for challenging behaviours, improvements in school performance, motivation, and attendance. Families reported to us that their home life was more stable.
Many of these students transitioned well to their secondary school Byrne Creek Secondary, which later received the prestigious 2010 ASCD award for educating the whole child. You can read more about this school in the book and how Project Hope morphed into the ‘Village of Attachment’ (VOA) at Byrne Creek.
VOA was a collaborative group of school professionals that weekly came together over 2 school years to explore how to build connectedness at Byrne Creek. This year, the ‘Collaborative for the Study of Connectedness in School Communities’ grew to involve representatives from several Burnaby schools whom met for 12 weeks at a district education center to continue dialogue on the topic of building connectedness in school communities. The group has requested we continue next school year and that we expand the conversation by inviting community partners and organizations to the table.
My story is just one example of how one school community encouraged building from the heart. I invite you to connect with each other here through your stories of how you grow compassion in children and adults.