This morning in the office, I welcomed a new family to Joyner. Having been one of those students once upon a time joining a class later in the year, I wanted to make sure they were greeted and welcomed. I reminded the family to connect with us with any questions as we started this new journey together.

In walking into classrooms first thing after my morning duty, I entered Mr. Jepsen’s second grade class. On the board, there was the typical welcome note for the day. In it, he included the welcome to a new student. He encouraged his students in how to best welcome and support the student in sharing the community of the class. Mr. Jepsen directed students to get up like every morning to start their day. A fun song began on the computer. Students began to dance and greet each other. He moved around the classroom welcoming each child. He made eye contact, laughed, and celebrated his students. The newest member of the class sat in awe of what was happening around him.

What a welcome! What a joy to be in a class that interacts with each other! I watched as children moved around to be sure to shake hands with each other. I was greeted with the same enthusiasm. I felt like I belonged. This atmosphere was so rich with a welcome. Immediately after the song, Mr. Jepsen jumped into the next directions for the day.

This type of buzz each morning I feel often in other classrooms across Joyner. I appreciate the rituals we create in our classrooms. I appreciate the sense of belonging created by all of the community.

Yesterday afternoon, one of our staff offered a session about her research work from her own professional growth. Staff came to learn from a colleague, but I also felt the sense of support of this member of the Joyner family. I was impressed how quickly the team of teachers who work in different corners of Joyner came together to discuss the topic presented. There was a feeling of closeness and ability to share ideas and thoughts. Ideas were questioned. In another brief moment, I felt that sense of belonging created by the people at Joyner.

Creating a space for belonging is essential in our work at school. I am grateful for our families who help in this gift. I am grateful to our teachers who guide and teach us all our part in building that sense of belonging. I am grateful to our students who live this every day. They may make mistakes in how to be friends or how to handle stressful moments, but I want them to know they always belong.

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