A Picture that Says a Thousand Words

January 26, 2017

A Picture that Says a Thousand Words

A Parent’s Perspective on Declamations

Yesterday, Kindergartners and First Graders took to the stage for the first Declamations of the year. This is such a unique program and a highlight of every child’s year at Grymes. Standing on stage and reciting a poem by heart in front of a standing-room-only audience of peers, teachers, parents, and grandparents is such a valuable learning experience for young children early in their lives. Because, when you think about it, as a grown-up, this is the stuff of nightmares. Indeed, studies have shown that most adults will cite public speaking as their number one fear.

The number one fear, even over a shark bite, a lightning strike or death!

Declamations are just one of many ways that Grymes “launches learners” in a wide range of skills that will lead to success at the secondary level and beyond.

In my mind, Declamations represent what’s extraordinary about a Grymes education. Here at Grymes, it’s not about worksheets and test scores. A character-driven whole-child education is complex and multi-faceted, and Declamations are just one of many ways that Grymes “launches learners” with a wide range of skills that will lead to success at the secondary level and beyond.

More significantly, in my opinion, Declamations capture the essence of our learning community. Look carefully, and you’ll see it. Just close enough to the center of the stage, sitting on the floor or to the side and out of the way so as not to attract attention, there’s a teacher supporting, encouraging and emanating pride for his or her students. It’s a part of the Declamation experience that’s so easy to miss, because all eyes are trained on the children in this important milestone moment for them. Right there with every child is his or her teacher, smiling with encouragement, providing a quiet prompt in that moment of a mind gone blank, and – more importantly – gently reminding each and every student that they can do this.

The teacher is there as a guiding hand and cheerleader for each and every student, all of whom are working hard to achieve something pretty incredible – something that many of the adults in the room would rather be bitten by a shark than do!

Here in this learning environment, children are nudged just beyond their comfort zone, wherever that might be for each individual learner.

To me, it’s what Grymes is all about. Here in this learning environment, children are nudged just beyond their comfort zone, wherever that might be for each individual learner. Whether it’s a Kindergartner standing on stage and reciting a Declamation poem for the first time, a first grader sounding out a word in his or her first chapter book or an eighth grader thinking through a complicated geometry proof, students are constantly engaged and challenged to do their best and grow individually. Yet, always and in all ways, that challenge is made within a context of encouragement, support and love.

If the happy faces of the students after their Declamations – or the standing ovation from the audience of faculty, family and students after the assembly – don’t provide enough of a visual about this special program here at Grymes, the image of a Kindergartner reciting his poem to his smiling teacher below the stage says a thousand words.

In my mind, this is the very essence of Grymes.

 

 

Hope is mom to two Grizzlies, Sophie ’21 and Liam ’25, who just yesterday gave his first Declamation.