Tag Archives: rituals

The Making of A DIFFERENCE

When asked to present a 90 second clip on How Megan Nordoff Has Made a Difference, well- where to start?  90 seconds simply isn’t enough time to speak on the many ways Megan has made a difference in the daily experiences possible at the early childhood level, to educating parents and providing them necessary tools of support in their child’s education, and in extending her knowledge and expertise outside the school’s facility walls.

Speaking directly to Megan on the topic, I’m met with a blush.  Obviously, she is uncomfortable with the idea of being singled out as a Difference Maker- not surprising coming from a leader who insists that she is only one small part of the larger picture.

Oh, but what pictures do tell of her contributions often left unspoken.

With care, together we chose a few of our most meaningful moments- ones we thought best conveyed the difference Ms.Megan is making not only with the children with whom she has a daily relationship, but also with their extended  community- parent, educator, and neighbor alike.

How does Megan Nordoff make a difference?  Our opening photo paints the initial picture:



Each morning our entire school community from Toddlers through Kindergarten gather together during FLAG CEREMONY to begin our day together.  Each child makes her contribution to the group, they are guided by their leader, Megan Nordoff.  The ceremony has become more than a mere gathering and transition of child to classroom, it has evolved into a meaningful ritual of togetherness and song.  It is also a rich opportunity to share the values of our school and community culture, modeled first by Ms. Megan and soon taken over by the Kindergarten leaders.

This morning, the Kindergarten students proudly display their hand sewn flag representing COMPASSION.  They share through an originally composed song and, later, by leading a play, the meaning of the word COMPASSION as seen through the eyes of the five and six year old child.  

In her daily interactions, Megan values and models empathetic gestures and compassion.  Her leadership by example, adds meaning to the song and rituals in place, affording the children an opportunity to internalize the concept.  Likewise, as they venture into the community after school hours or upon graduation, they will continue to model compassionate behaviors- making a difference themselves with whom they come in contact.

The morning rituals together help cultivate a sense of belonging while also supporting the student’s emotional growth and learning.  We have found that children who feel cared for in a bonded community approach the academic components of our day with a healthy attitude and are better able to concentrate on more difficult tasks at hand.  This part of our daily practice has made a significant difference- here are some more photos our morning ritual:


Ms. Megan’s leadership and practice inspire us to be fully present in each moment of our daily interactions and to value the routine.  We hope you will be inspired as well to check out Three Ways Teachers Make a Difference – and also to vote for Megan Nordoff as a Kindergarten Leader in Education each day this week.  Thanks for your support!

GATO Finalist – 3 Ways to Make a Difference

A special thanks to our mentor, Jonathan Wolff, for his inspirational SELF-AWAKENED CHILD series offering stories and practical activities designed to cultivate an emotionally aware young learner.

And, of course, to the photographer- David Vigliotti- for his beautiful photographs which help us articulate and advocate our practice outside the facility walls.

And to the teachers, parents and extended Charleston community.  Thanks for your support and keep on voting.  We want that farm!

Belonging and the Flag Ceremony

Maslov ranked Sense of Belonging before Self-Esteem on his hierarchy of needs.  Meaning that without a social context in which a person can validate his perceived worth, self-worth is not internalized.

Yet we often witness groups of young children being reconfigured each year without regard to established relationships at the start of each school year.  It is with schools- both at the early childhood and elementary levels especially- that affords the best opportunity to establish community and sense of belonging.

A strong sense of community provides the foundation upon which a child can develop the degree of her self-regulation to temporarily place her own will aside even for the benefit of the group to which she belongs- collaboration.  In doing so, the child is rewarded internally by a deep satisfaction his contributions have provided to the whole-  a deep feeling of worth he would not have been able to receive by simply attending to his own needs.

A feeling of BELONGING.

We like to cultivate this feeling on our very first day returning to school.  The Flag Ceremony initiates the process as school community elders open classroom activities for the day.  Spontaneously, the younger children join in…

Belonging – Flag Ceremony