We express a phrase at Joyner often, We are Family. We talk about our Joyner family. I have written about this family feeling we have at Joyner. An important piece to building this family is how we build individual relationships with students. We, as a staff, were introduced to idea of Second Stories over a year ago. We read an article and have shared a TED talk by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. We have often referenced how we want to reach through the first initial impression of someone to discover the multi-dimensions of each individual we encounter. This is a constant area that we push and encourage each other to grow.

I believe the relationships and conversations that I see between teachers and students is how we build these second stories with each other. It is so important to see how our teachers continue to connect with families even after they have moved out of the grade level and continue to grow. Our children are so happy to see their former teachers.

I have a student that joined the Joyner family this year in second grade. Our first conversation actually happened that first week as I was riding home on different buses learning the new routes. He sat near me and was curious why his principal was on the bus with him. He quickly invited me over to his house, feeling sure that his mom would cook me dinner. We have often talked about what that dinner could look like since that ride. I have noticed lately that he has come up to me at different points when we might pass each other. He has asked very specific questions about me. One of his questions was wanting to know if I was a teacher before I became a principal. Today he asked how long have I been doing what I do.

As I reflect on these curious questions, I realize that this young one is trying to build a second story of me. And I think about how so many of our students enjoy asking me questions in those moments when I am in the hallways or listening to their stories being read or while on lunch duty. The questions they ask of me are just as important as the ones I am asking them. Together we are building second stories and connecting with each other.

I happened into a class today during their morning meeting. Students were sharing gifts of kind words towards each other. Each day this month, they are focusing on a couple of classmates and recognizing them. The teacher asked the students how they were feeling about the process. One student quickly stated how excited he was. In his explanation, he felt excited that their class was growing stronger and getting to know each other more.

I have repeated often, the people make the place at Joyner. But it is not just the people, but the relationships we build with each other. Thank you for sharing your children with us and their stories.