November 26, 2014 17:05 Age: 3 yrs

Have You Filled a Bucket Today?: Spreading the Magic of Giving at AF Hartford Elementary Academy

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Kelley Fournier is an office coordinator at AF Hartford Elementary Academy.

This November, AF Hartford Elementary Academy is spreading a little magic in our community by holding a two-week food drive to benefit the Community Renewal Team – Albany Avenue Service Center. The Community Renewal Team is a community action agency in Hartford that helps individuals and families access resources that will help them meet immediate and longer-term needs.

The most magical part of the food drive is that it offers an opportunity for our students to live by our REACH value of citizenship. During the food drive all teachers are utilizing one social studies learning block to read the book “Have You Filled a Bucket Today?” In this book, children are encouraged show kindness, appreciation and love through “bucket-filling.” This is a powerful and effective metaphor for how our positive actions and words affect the happiness of others and ourselves.

For our kindergarteners in Trinity College, the bucket isn’t invisible like in the story book – it is real and filled with colorful cut-outs of stars, flowers, and hearts that represent good feelings and thoughts. Their teacher, Dr D.J. Vandrilla, shows them this bucket and asks:  “What is something nice that you can do to help fill our bucket?”

Eagerly raising their hands, students share their bucket-filing ideas with their class:

 “I would give you a hug,” says Ketzy.

 “I would help a friend,” says Jahmari.

As each student shares, he or she is given a cut-out star, flower or heart.  It brings a wide smile to their faces. The bucket is filling. D.J. explains the food drive in terms our youngest students can understand and then asks a “4th grader question”

 “Why would it make you feel good to help someone who needs food?”

After a few moments of silence, eager hands again begin to rise. D.J. calls on Kyle who is sitting patiently. Softly he says, “because you’re being nice.”

For our students, this is a golden moment in learning. Every day, our teachers deliver lessons that give our students the academic tools to be successful on their climb to college. Our “bucket” lesson, however, exemplifies our school’s emphasis on another part of our school’s mission– developing a sense of character that will create a new generation of community leaders.

At AF Hartford Elementary Academy, bucket-filling has turned into donation box filling. Within the first days of the food drive, several classrooms already had overflowing donation boxes. Our principal, Ernest Peterson, shared how heart-warming and affirming it was to see this high level of participation from our students and families. Our students are not only donating food to families in their community but spreading happiness and hope. They are truly living by our REACH values.

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