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Fostering Empathy

Posted By Paul Druzinsky, Friday, November 4, 2016
Updated: Friday, November 4, 2016

Twenty-first century educational thinking has identified and brought to the forefront the value of fostering empathy in our children. One of the important ways that we demonstrate and accomplish this at Avery Coonley is through our participation in National Sleep-Out Saturday, an event designed to educate students about the struggles of the homeless in our country.

On the first Saturday in November, students across the country spend the night outdoors, with limited clothing and bedding and none of the creature comforts of home. The experience is designed to simulate, for a night, what homeless people experience every day.  Typically, students also participate in educational discussions and raise money for local shelters as well. All together, these activities raise awareness for the plight of the homeless is a very personal way.

This Saturday, fifteen of our Middle School students, along with several adults, will sleep outside in the ACS Cloister. I have participated for the past two years and believe this event is one of the most powerful experiences we offer our students. While the short-term benefits are critical – raising money for the homeless – the long-term lessons will impact our students for their lifetimes.

At ACS, this event is also representative of the best of our school mission. The night is planned, organized and executed completely by students—not adults. It is hands-on, experiential learning---not constrained or contained in a classroom setting. And it speaks in a very real way to the heightened sensitivities to the world and care and concern for others—traits that are often very pronounced in the gifted population. For all these reasons, I now look forward to the first weekend in November, as I know I will be a witness to a profound experience in the life of our students.

~ Paul Druzinsky, Head of School

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