On Thankful Thursday, third and fourth graders reflect on the people and things they feel grateful for. They write their thoughts in gratitude journals, and on some Thursdays, they write their thoughts in letters to the people they are thankful for. “Ms. Love has started doing Thankful Thursday each week during her morning message to the Lower School,” Fourth Grade Teacher Abbie Cox explained. “In conjunction with this, many teachers have discussed being thankful more in depth on Thursdays in their morning meeting. Now more than ever, it is so important to recognize the many blessings we have been given.”
“We are doing this project to consciously take time to think about the good things in our lives, and to let others know they are appreciated, and to put our words into action,” Third Grade Teacher April Foster explained. “We frequently talk about sharing God’s love by putting others first. This project allows us a way to do that while practicing our writing skills, too!”
“We first focused on writing to teachers, administrators, and staff,” Foster said. “Some of those included the PAC crew, who helped with our Little House program; the Tech Center crew, who keeps our technology going and helped keep us connected throughout distancing learning; our custodians, who keep our campus looking wonderful; and our security officers, who help keep us safe and are so much fun.” The heartfelt notes touched staff and faculty throughout campus.
On Veterans Day, students were encouraged to write to veterans in their family or community. Teachers made a list of those they knew of so students who did not know any veterans could still write to one. In Mrs. Foster’s class, students wrote to several veterans, including Mrs. Foster’s father. “They really appreciated the letters, and some took the time to write a return letter,” Foster said.
The classes focus on different groups to be thankful for each week. One Thursday, they focused on people in their family they were grateful for. Students wrote to parents, grandparents, cousins, or siblings. When writing to individuals on campus, students often wrote to former teachers, but occasionally surprised their current teachers by writing letters to people who have touched their lives in other ways.
“It has been really special to see who the students pick to write to, Cox noted. “We had a new student this year write to his aunt, Patti Wade, thanking her for helping bring him to JA and noting that he was so glad to be at her school. We even had a student write Mrs. Amanda Cross, who was NOT this student’s preschool teacher, but who covered maternity leave for her teacher one year. Another out of the box response when a student wrote to Mrs. Courtney Bush thanking her for all she had taught her in an after school sewing club.”
“This project has definitely emphasized how wonderful all of the people at JA are, not only the teachers, and how much of an impact they have on the students and school as a whole,” said Cox. “There is no big or small job; the students see and recognize this. It’s pretty amazing that they do this without prompting or without being forced to write to certain people.”