“We ask our children to be vulnerable, and try new things,” says Saugatuck Elementary School principal Beth Messler. “Why wouldn’t we as adults ask that of ourselves?”
It’s a great question.
And — throughout all of March — that’s exactly what the women and men who make up the SES community did.
For several years, literacy coach Jessica Carey and literary specialist Dawn Sherriff had written “slice of life” posts on a teachers’ blog, sharing their thoughts with a worldwide group of educators.
This year, they issued a challenge to everyone in their own school to join them.
Join they did. All month long, staff members — teachers, paraprofessionals, administrators, custodians, the nurse — wrote “Saugatuck Slice” stories.
Every day, a different one appeared on the school’s private blog.
Each one provided a different look into an adult in the building. Topics ranged from professional (why someone became a teacher) to personal (growing up with siblings, trying snowboarding for the first time).
One staff member wrote about finding joy. Principal Messler’s story appeared on March 6, the 30th anniversary of her first date with her now-husband.
Even superintendent of schools Tom Scarice joined in. He shared his hopes and dreams about education.
“It was an amazing community effort,” Messler says. “People kept signing up.”
The effort helped create community too. People learned new things about their colleagues, and gained insights into their lives.
Toward the end of the month, Sherriff wrote a “slice” about the “Slice.” She said:
Day after day, slice after slice, the hallway conversations were growing. I overheard conversations about about feathered hair, parenting 5-year-olds, the love of trees and getting reacquainted with a snowboard.
This was the evidence that our blog was alive and well. The energy it created could be felt and heard (even though, technically, you can’t hear energy). The hallway comments and smiles day after day celebrated the writing and the writers. The invitation to write had created more than writers, it created a knowing, it strengthened a community.
(Our) collective effort over time connected us in so many ways. The structures of our school days often do not allow for the time or space to know each other, really know each other. Our blog became a space for not only sharing, but knowing.
This was a project for the Saugatuck El adults. But one teacher shared her “slice” with her students. It was her way of modeling writing — and being vulnerable.
March is over. Daily “Saugatuck Slices” have ended (though they may continue infrequently).
But the conversations they sparked have just begun.
Thank you for featuring our beautiful community at SES!