Service and Compassion: Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan 2nd Graders Earn Grant for Inclusive Playground Project
As an Expeditionary Learning school, one of the design principles of Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan is service and compassion. One of the most important reasons to learn is to be of service to others and to make a difference in the community and in the world.
Students, teachers and staff also know that making change takes time. Not only does it take hard work, but it takes a tremendous amount of patience and resilience. Those are skills students cannot learn by reading books. They need to engage in meaningful work and most importantly, they need to know that they truly do have the power to make a difference.
Some key figures from Hartford Public Schools have stood beside the school as its 2nd graders have engaged in Project Playground for the past two years.
During Year One of the project, Mr. Claudio Bazzano, the Executive Director of Facilities, helped the 2nd graders advocate to have the unsafe wall removed from the school’s courtyard. Both Mr. Bazanno and Dr. Jose Colon-Rivas worked with our students to make it happen.
In Year Two, the 2nd graders presented to Mr. Bazzano and Dr. Colon-Rivas their vision of a safe and accessible playground where ALL students could play together. Their work is tied to engaging and relevant curriculum, where they learn about other children who have made a difference, including, for example, Alex’s Lemonade Stand.
The Moylan students, through this work, have been inspired to make a difference in their own community. They have two classrooms of students with multiple disabilities. They cannot play on the playground with their peers, and the 2nd graders are determined to change this.
This month, the school learned that the work of our 2nd graders was recognized nationally by their partners at EL Education. The 2nd grade teachers submitted Project Playground for consideration in EL Education’s a Better World Project. Of the many applicants across the country, the project was selected as a winning entry. Moylan will receive some funds to support the continued work and will also have the benefit of an experienced coach to guide the project. The funding will pay for the students to continue to engage in field work and hire experts to support the creation of plans for the playground.
The students are so excited for the opportunity to continue this work, and to bring to life their vision of a safe and accessible playground for their school community. Everyone at Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan is proud of their students, and thankful to Hartford Public Schools for making this journey with them.
A Better World Project writes about the Moylan students:
We are thrilled to have Project Playground included in this selective and prestigious first cohort of Better World projects. Each project application was reviewed carefully by EL Education’s Better World Project Advisory Board comprised of expert leaders, teachers, and students from EL Education Credentialed Schools. After a rigorous vetting process, final selections were made by consensus during our board meeting while at this year’s National Conference in Chicago. Your project impressed everyone! The board was especially impressed with:
- The compelling topic that will engage students with play and then open their minds and hearts to students with differences.
- That this project builds on previous years’ successful work.
- That these students are not just trying to make change now (in the short term) but they are also learning the steps to effect change for the rest of their lives!
The Advisory Board brainstormed strengths and concerns for every project submitted. We look forward to sharing with you, in depth, the positive dimensions of your project that they felt have real potential as a model for American schools. We will also share with you all of the potential challenges that the Board noted that they felt might constrain the success of your project as a national model. As you are a part of this cohort, we are ready to support you in many ways to ensure that your project is as successful, well-documented, and widely appreciated as it can be.
Service and Compassion: We are crew, not passengers. Students and teachers are strengthened by acts of consequential service to others, and one of an EL Education school’s primary functions is to prepare students with the attitudes and skills to learn from and be of service.
Congratulations to our 2nd graders at EL Academy at Moylan, to their teachers, school, and to Mr. Bazanno and Dr. Colon-Rivas (pictured above with the students and teachers on their playground.)
For more information about this exciting project, please contact:
Christine McCarthy, Principal
Expeditionary Learning Academy at Moylan School
101 Catherine Street
Hartford, CT 06106