Contributor: Sahba Rohani, Director of Community Development at Community Roots
One of the most powerful things we can do for our students is allow them the opportunity to build connections with others. Once a month our K-5 community is transformed as younger students are paired up with their older buddies. Each individually matched, we watch our students sprawl across the rug reading with their younger buddy or sitting side by side solving a math game together. Over time, the relationships go from shy hellos to hi-fives in the hallway and visits during class culminations.
Throughout the year we also create space for our middle school students to visit our elementary school and continue to build bonds of friendship. Our middle schoolers immediately become comfortable in our K-1 classrooms as they join them for morning reading before the school day starts. Sometimes this connection happens through a curricular lens. In a Spanish/Art collaboration, our 6th graders prepare their Libro de Colores and teach our 1st graders some new words in Spanish. Creating opportunities for mentorship, community building, and developing friendships, allows our students to feel connected to others, outside of the confines of their own classroom, therefore enhancing their understanding and appreciation for the larger community.