By Geoffrey Campbell, Strategic Initiatives Coordinator at Greensboro Day School
The very act of creating “hope-filled” drawings, at the Pandemic’s onset, nurtured the well-being of the youngest children in extraordinary ways. The act of turning pictures into pages for a book meant to raise the spirits of others were not-so-random acts of kindness. More importantly, it carried the hope manifested in students’ hearts and minds who had every reason to be worried but instead looked beyond themselves to help others.
Last spring, as the pandemic took hold and schools across the nation moved into distance learning, students and teachers in Greensboro Day School’s Early Childhood Program had an idea. Drawing inspiration from the book “September 12th: We Knew Everything Would Be All Right” written and illustrated by Masterson Elementary Students from Kennett, MO, and the many rainbow drawings frequently seen on front doors and windows of area homes, they developed a plan to bring others joy.
In the September 12th book, readers are encouraged to find comfort in their daily routines, even in the worst situations. Under the guidance of the Early Childhood teachers, students in the preschool program at GDS, Bitty Bengals (age 3), and Junior Kindergarten, created drawings to encourage others to have hope, express compassion, and share kindness with others. The resulting collection has achieved the goal; smiles abound when families and friends pour over the young artists’ works and messages.
Greensboro Day School’s youngest students are nurtured through developmentally appropriate projects, playtime, and pro-social behavior. The academic components of the project, writing and reading, form the foundation of an appropriately rigorous curriculum. The Rainbow Book Project was yet another creative approach imagined by teachers ready to do their best for their students in the face of challenging times.
The Rainbow Book Project was a true expression of a “private school with a public purpose.” On February 22, several students helped deliver 180 copies of the newly published book to Joshua Leeper, a Guilford County Schools representative. The latter helped distribute the books to area Guilford County School Elementary school media specialists and school libraries. “We appreciate this gift from young people to young people, said Wanda Edwards, Director of Communications for Guilford County Schools. “Even in the midst of a pandemic, we can still conquer fear and anxiety with loving-kindness.”
After receiving the books, Guilford County Schools media specialists share additional “rainbow drawings” meant to inspire and bring hope to others.
Tracie Catlett, Greensboro Day School Head of School, noted, “Learning that children in our community will have the opportunity to read a book written by preschoolers about compassion and kindness serves an unspoken public purpose in Greensboro. Watching our students see their artwork come to life in a finished book brings such joy to our students. They were excited to learn that their creative work will bring lots of smiles to the faces of so many children.”
At GDS, we believe that our children learn best through actively engaging in their world. The support and encouragement of dedicated and passionate teachers enable us to nurture each child’s unique learning style to understand children’s strengths and challenges to help them grow in a world that is sometimes hard to understand. We don’t teach for the grade or particular college placement, but you can be sure that a decade from now, there will be a college essay or two that begins: “My preschool class published a book of joy and hope during the Pandemic. I see life differently because of it.”
*Sponsored by Greensboro Day School