I was back in my home town today to celebrate Allen Creek School being named a New York School of Character. I was a surprise guest at today's celebration as students and staff celebrated being one of three schools honored this year for excellence in character education curriculum.They were selected by The Academy of Character Education at the Sage College and are now eligible to earn national recognition (check out the video!)
So proud of Allen Creek!! Everyone was screaming with joy and waving their school flags high. Songs rang out, including one about respecting friends which the students wrote themselves. Students shared short essays about what character meant to them as their peers politely listened with smiles.
Much of Allen Creek's work focuses on bullying. The walls were covered in student-made posters about patience, respect and an open mind. More impressive was that as my young tour guides spoke about each poster it was clear that - rather than language they had been fed to a point of an autopilot regurgitation - these were words and ideas that they were passionate about sharing. They eagerly told me about courage, support and tolerance with clear connection to the importance of every quality they explained. I was given a moment to thank the students for making my job that much easier. Indeed, I stood in a room of tiny Miss and Mister Americas; little leaders who were successfully making their world better by recognizing their role as individuals within it and the importance of a positive world.
After the party I couldn't help but stick around and see everyone off to their bus. Right down to my very last new friend.
Congratulations to Allen Creek students and staff for being such an exceptional community for one another!! A special congrats to Mr. Biondi, the Principal AND my former theater teacher from kindergarten. Yes, you heard me. This man remembers me from when I played "the princess who never laughs" but kept cracking up during the show. He made me fall in love with theater. No...he made me fall in love with sharing myself. Mr. Biondi danced and sang with his students throughout today's celebration and his energy is beyond contagious. He makes everyone unafraid to join in his free-flow of expression. He taught me to open up and trust that what I had to share was good enough. He is doing that every day with these young minds and for that I am so grateful.