When an Upper Schooler enters a Lower School classroom, the littlest Bears can be wide-eyed, excited and willing to learn anything they can from the older students. However, sometimes the tables are turned. In a recent lesson on kindness, our senior Prefects say they learned something as well.
"The biggest takeaway I had from the lesson was that, at Landon, we are very inclusive," said Rodrigo Pedraza Garcia '19. "One third grader said he felt that he didn't ever have to ask to be included to play soccer, he was always invited. As you get older, you work on building and maintaining friend groups, so it's great to see the foundation being set for the younger boys."
The lesson on kindness is part of a yearlong program where senior Prefects visit the Lower School to teach ethics lessons. (The Prefects also visit the Middle School to teach ethics.) Prefects are chosen during their junior year by their peers and teachers and are responsible for modeling Landon's core values of honesty and respect. This work is all part of the Prefects' role to also improve awareness of the Code of Character through Landon's character and ethics education program.
"One of the things we are really hoping to impart on all Landon boys is the power of kindness, the longevity of kindness," said Ray Wright, Form IV Dean and head of Upper School ethics, service, and leadership initiatives. Wright added that the lesson was designed to build on an ethics speech given by Upper School Humanities and English teacher Tom DiChiara.
"It's really powerful for both groups. For the older students, they remember what it's like to be that age and want guidance from those older than you," Wright said. "For our younger Bears, it's important our seniors come to the classroom and demonstrate how they value these attributes and model it in their everyday lives."
Each lesson consisted of a small-group discussion of what words are associated with kindness, how the boys see kindness in their lives and at Landon, and situations where it might be challenging to be kind. The second part of the lesson included a collaborative activity of drawing a picture that represents what they felt when they showed kindness.
"The third graders knew that the little things matter and that was also inspiring," Garcia added. "It's not just please and thank you, it's holding the doors, and it's being respectful and thoughtful in the lunchroom or wherever, with your friends, classmates and teachers."
"There is something to be said for these seniors giving back to their community," Wright said, noting that he especially enjoyed watching the Prefects high-fiving the third graders when they left for athletics. "In essence, this interaction, this lesson, says this is what we value and this is who we hope you are and continue to be."