The Importance of Building Community
by Paula Barros, School Director
“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.”
Coretta Scott King's powerful words resonate with us at MELA deeply. As “The Little School with the Big Heart”, empathy is one of our school’s expectations, and the one I personally value the most - as when you truly care about others, it is easier to be mindful, accountable, and a good leader.
As we value this expectation so greatly, it makes sense that we seek to establish relationships with others that share our values. You probably have already read in previous blog posts about our partnerships with Canine Inspired Change, and the University of Minnesota’s science program - InSciEd Out. You probably might have read our blog post about Art at MELA, and the wonderful partnership we have with the MN Orchestra, MN Capoeira, MN Opera, Heart of Dance, MPR Class Note Artists, among others that are yet to be highlighted here on our blog.
In this post, I would like to highlight another partnership that we are very thankful for - the one we have with the Maple Grove Fire Department, in particular with Firefighter and Inspector, Shannon Burton.
Shannon Burton has partnered up with MELA way before the Covid-19 pandemic started. During his many visits, his dedication towards our students is truly noticeable and his connection with them makes the things that he teaches more significant and meaningful.
On one occasion, he talked to our students about fire safety and what to do in case of a fire in their houses or our school. Here are some pictures of when he visited our students in 2019, when our current 1st graders were in Pre-K:
Also in 2019, after learning all about fire safety, the 4th grade students (that are currently in 6th grade) developed such a strong relationship with Mr. Burton, that they even invited him for a special lunch at MELA!
But then, came the pandemic, and we were distance learning and/or limiting the amount of people in our building. Mr. Burton was very concerned about our staff and community well-being, and he made sure to reach out on many occasions, to schedule virtual field trips, and check in about our staff and community’s general wellness. During the virtual field trips he facilitated, he answered questions about the pandemic, fire safety, and gave us a tour of the Maple Grove Fire Department! The students really enjoyed seeing the truck and their equipment!
Recently, he joined our 5th grade class to talk about several areas of fire safety and share very important information for young babysitters to have when alone with littler children. The students were actively involved in the discussion and asked relevant questions about what they were taught. Building community is crucial for our school. If you are interested in partnering with us, please send me an email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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