Elementary School

Building Character and Community: The Positivity Project in 1st grade at Shrevewood Elementary

By Emma Brackett and Michaela Wuest

Introduction to Shrevewood Elementary’s Daily Approach

Shrevewood Elementary School, nestled in a vibrant community, is dedicated to nurturing the academic, social, and emotional growth of its students. With a commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment, Shrevewood emphasizes the development of the whole child. Our innovative programs and dedicated staff ensure that every student feels valued and empowered to reach their full potential. One of the key initiatives contributing to this mission is The Positivity Project, which has been making a significant impact on our first-grade students.

At Shrevewood Elementary, The Positivity Project has become an integral part of our first graders’ daily routine, creating a significant impact on both their learning and social development. By integrating the project into our morning meetings, we provide a structured and inspiring start to the day, focusing on good behavior reminders and the introduction of new vocabulary related to positive character strengths. This approach not only sets a positive tone for the day but also equips students with the language and understanding to recognize and exhibit these strengths in their daily interactions.

Shrevewood Positivity Project Board

Student Engagement and Real-Life Application

Students have enthusiastically embraced the stories and lessons from The Positivity Project. Yahya, a first grader in Miss Brackett’s class, shared, “I like the stories. If I ever got in the same situation, I’d know what to do.” This shows how The Positivity Project helps students apply the lessons to real-life scenarios, enhancing their problem-solving skills and moral reasoning. By discussing these strengths and recognizing them in stories and real-life situations, our students are developing a keen sense of empathy and ethical behavior.

The impact of The Positivity Project extends beyond individual learning. It fosters a collaborative and supportive classroom environment. Connor, a first grader in Miss Brackett’s class, mentioned, “My favorite character trait to learn about was love of learning. Love of learning was my favorite trait because it made me student of the month. I got it because I pay attention and like to learn about stuff I don’t know.” This illustrates how the project encourages a love of learning and personal growth, leading to tangible recognition and self-esteem boosts. Students are motivated to strive for their best, knowing that their efforts are seen and valued.

Enhancing Communication and Relationship Skills

Effective communication has also been a notable outcome. Ethan, a first grader in Miss Brackett’s class shared, “The Positivity Project has helped our class communicate our feelings better.” These insights reflect how the Positivity Project encourages open dialogue and sharing among students. Through discussions and collaborative activities, students learn to express themselves clearly and listen to others, fostering a community of mutual respect and understanding. These skills are crucial not only for academic success but also for building strong, healthy relationships.

The Positivity Project’s focus on character strengths such as kindness, perspective, and perseverance resonate deeply with our first graders. They actively point out when they see these strengths in stories or when a classmate displays them. This practice reinforces the strengths in a meaningful context and helps children internalize these values. It also encourages them to act as role models for their peers, promoting a culture of positivity within the classroom.

Shrevewood Positivity Project Staircase

Teacher Perspectives, Positive Recognition, and Parent Engagement

Our first-grade teachers have found The Positivity Project to be a valuable resource. Emma Brackett shared, “This is my first year implementing The Positivity Project in my classroom, and I’ve had so much fun with it! P2’s differentiated and age-appropriate slides, activities, and discussion questions have positively impacted my students’ character development, social-emotional learning, self-awareness, and relationship building.” Michaela Wuest added, “The Positivity Project has shown my students how to apply meaningful characteristics to everyday situations. They have loved learning about humor and how important bringing smiles to other students’ faces each day is.” Their experiences highlight the project’s role in enhancing both academic and personal growth.

Moreover, the program’s emphasis on positive recognition plays a crucial role in maintaining high morale throughout the school year. Each month, staff and students have the opportunity to nominate individuals who have exemplified the character strengths of the month. At the end of the month, one staff member and one student are surprised during the school day, presented with a certificate, and have their photo taken with Principal, Mr. DeSmyter or Assistant Principal, Mrs. Vandawalker. This moment of recognition is a source of pride and joy, as students and teachers alike feel valued and appreciated.

Recognize staff and students for demonstrating character strengths.

At Shrevewood, one of our favorite things to do is to recognize our staff and students for demonstrating character strengths! When we recognize the strengths in others, we can build stronger and deeper relationships together.

This recognition process has a powerful impact on the school community. The excitement and pride when nominees are acknowledged contribute to a positive school culture. Seeing their pictures on The Positivity Project bulletin board outside the cafeteria fills students with a sense of achievement and belonging. It also inspires others to strive towards displaying positive strengths, knowing that their efforts will be recognized and celebrated.

The Positivity Project has also contributed to the development of social-emotional learning in first graders. By focusing on character strengths, students learn to identify and manage their emotions, set and achieve positive goals, show empathy for others, establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. These skills are essential for personal well-being and success in school and beyond.

Parents have noticed the difference The Positivity Project makes as well. They report that their children talk about the character strengths at home and strive to demonstrate them outside of school. This extension of learning into the home environment reinforces the positive behaviors and attitudes being taught at school, creating a cohesive support system for the children.

Conclusion: The Broader Impact of The Positivity Project

In conclusion, The Positivity Project at Shrevewood Elementary has had a profound and far-reaching impact on our first graders. It has enriched their vocabulary, fostered a positive and supportive classroom environment, improved communication skills, and promoted character development. By recognizing and celebrating positive behaviors, we build a strong school community where students and staff feel valued and motivated. The project has truly made a difference, laying the foundation for our students to become empathetic, resilient, and successful individuals.

Emma Brackett and Michaela Wuest
First Grade Teachers

Emma Brackett and Michaela Wuest are both first grade teachers at Shrevewood Elementary School in Falls Church, Virginia. Ms. Wuest and Ms. Brackett both have four years of teaching experience and one year at Shrevewood ES.