To learn about community, sometimes you have to leave the classroom.
This spring, our three first grade classes took part in a "learning journey" of Germantown, hitting the streets to explore local businesses and public services. On Friday, these classes invited families to a pop-up museum/cafe/celebration called "A Taste of Germantown" to showcase their work and share food from local businesses.
On each journey off campus, the students took photographs of neighborhood sites that caught their eye. (Computer teacher Ann Perrone equipped each student with a small digital camera and taught them how to use it.) These photos—of churches, cafes, streetscapes, firetrucks, and even dandelions—were showcased and set to music at the beginning of the event, with the first graders enthusiastically clapping along to the bouncy beat.
With the leadership assistance of Kathy Paulmier, our Director of Community Involvement, our students met and conducted interviews with the owners and managers of the Germantown Espresso Bar, G-Town Radio, All the Way Live Restaurant, Uncle Bobbie's Cafe and Books, Sister Muhammad's Kitchen, and the Philadelphia Fire Department Engine 19. During the "A Taste of Germantown" event, families could explore the displays around the room and peruse photos from the community visits and read the kids' interview questions and answers. Michael Johnson Byrne '29 says, "We learned about the stuff that can make a community better, like being kind to each other."
In addition to the showcase of local services, the kids also made art featuring their favorite places in their home neighborhoods, created a 3-D model of our school and nearby buildings, and kept detailed, illustrated journals of their community explorations.
So, what stood out most about these community studies for our first graders? Kai Austin '29 [pictured at the top of the story] says, "Neighborhoods are all different, but all good. It's nice to meet new people everyday. People are not all the same."