As a catalyst in the lives of our students, Wellington opens young minds and hearts to the world as they prepare for their essential role within it. Along with building foundational skills, an emphasis on social emotional well-being, respect for the viewpoints of others, and value in service to the community, our students grow into independent thinkers who also play a meaningful part of the whole, so they may one day lead with empathy, courage, and kindness.
Beginning this fall, prekindergarten teachers Pete Kaser ’96 P ’27 ’29 and
Alyson Vigneron P ’33 have made kindness a core part of their curriculum. Classroom conversations framed around thinking of and caring for others, as well as how to help inspire and give joy, led them to create a Kindness Rock Garden, painting rocks with uplifting messages to be placed around the Wellington campus. After discussing the heroic efforts of frontline medical workers caring for patients with COVID-19, they made “You Matter” bags filled with self-care items and artwork expressing their gratitude for doctors and nurses. When Kaser and Vigneron, along with Head of School Dr. Jeff Terwin, delivered the bags to Ohio Health Grant Medical Center in December, the medical workers were moved to tears, especially when they were able to thank students directly over Zoom.
"Talk about filling your bucket," administrative nurse manager Kim Blevins told The Columbus Dispatch. "It was absolutely priceless to watch the staff at Grant talk to the kids. I had staff tearing up ... what those little ones put in the bags meant more than anything."
Middle school language arts teacher Greg Davis has long been dedicated to bridging divides. Having previously designed curriculum at Wellington for students to practice and strengthen their skills in civil discourse, Davis was awarded a student engagement grant for his work in developing the Ohio Futures Collaborative, a partnership that creates opportunities for students to work across regional boundaries in Ohio.
For Davis, the prevalence of online learning in the last year and students’ familiarity with virtual engagement provided interesting new possibilities for connections. Using Zoom and Google Suite to communicate with middle school students in Bellefontaine, a group of Wellington 5th graders began a collaboration with their peers from a very different background on a project that could bring their two communities together, a new railway system.
“Using online learning technology to erase the space between students in different regions of the state of Ohio, gave our students an opportunity to learn with others who they otherwise might have never met,” Davis said. “In this way we were able to bridge regional divides and create a unique academic experience.
”With some guidance from teachers, students researched various types of trains (high-speed, hyperloop, and traditional rail) before determining which one would work best for their needs and also began planning specific routes. Each student involved has been able to bring their unique talents to the project. For Reid Braswell ’28, exploring an interest in engineering has been one of the best parts of the experience. “The thing I like about engineering is the creativity that is involved,” he said. “I have been one of the active idea makers for the design and the mechanics of the train.”
Students like Alice Clark ’28 appreciate hearing new ideas and perspectives from students at another school, focused on making a positive impact on the world. “I like being able to share the creative ideas from all of our different heads,” she said, “and put them together to create an idea to make things better for humans.”
Change starts with the youth, believe upper school students Sara Velasco ’22 and Cindy Fu ’21, who recently received a United Way “Unwrap the Future” Grant for their project entitled “Re-Wellington.” The funding will help them build a sustainable vegetable garden on campus, using food waste for compost.
“We hope to reduce our energy and fuel consumption by creating a circular economy for food,” Velasco said. “Our food waste will be used as compost, that will act as fertilizer in the garden. The vegetable garden will give the Wellington community healthier food options and even allow students to gain hands-on experience in gardens.”
Both Velasco and Fu were inspired to bring the garden to life after co-leading the International Cultural Exchange Program, a partnership between Wellington and Kunming No. 1 High School International Center in China. Students from both schools agreed to focus on the environment this year, according to Velasco, and the vegetable garden will give the Wellington community healthier food options as well as valuable experiences in cultivation as gardeners themselves.
Way to grow, Jags!