May 22

Sara Stone Wins Distinguished Service Award

Posted by Linda Reing in The Alumni Blog on May 22, 2013

By Sara Stone '04

Sara Stone'04 with BSCAA President Jesse Pugh.

Our work together has been a motivation and an inspiration to continue the work Alli and I are doing.

Bank Street has been a part of my life since I began my teaching career at Midtown West a public elementary school that has a deep connection to Bank Street. I believe I was meant to find that school –a small, progressive, diverse school that believes children learn by doing and in the idea that it really does take a village to raise a child. Working there I learned about the importance of social studies in the classroom – that it can transform the educational experience for a child. Students learn to investigate the world around them through deep and rich studies of communities near and far, people and cultures and their history as they learn to think critically about events, and redefine their understanding of the world as they learn new information.

My work there led me to Bank Street where I entered the Leadership Program. For me Bank Street holds the fundamental belief that children learn by doing. This was a practice that I fell in love with while teaching. I also believe strongly in the power and importance of inclusion – making sure every child, family and staff member feels welcome and valued. The way in which we teach is an opportunity to prepare students for the world we live in and to be thoughtful engaged members of their community and the world.

 I have and will continue to make it my focus to encourage people to see the value in inclusive practices. Mara-Sapon Shevin who taught one of my undergraduate classes wrote the book, “Because we can change the world” And in it she writes that “All students must feel safe, respected, and valued to learn new skills. Fear, discomfort, and anxiety are fundamentally incompatible with the learning process and make teaching and learning difficult. Successful classrooms are those in which students feel supported in their learning, willing to take risks, and challenged to become fully human with one another and open to new possibilities.” She goes on to write about the importance of students feeling a sense of membership in the community. I believe and hope all of you do as well that this can be achieved when children receive the supports and services that meet their individual needs – acknowledging the whole child; and that it’s our responsibility as educators to empower children to see their role in society. And as Mara would say, how to be “responsible and responsive” in challenging situations – instead of hopeless in the face of racism, poverty and violence.”  I believe students who feel supported and get the supports they need, in turn feel valued and empowered to make change.

I hope and am committed to insuring that we see in our lifetime an increasing value on educating the children of our communities, and the importance of building and maintaining schools that believe in and honor what incredible things young people can do. In 2010 third graders at our school organized their first walk-a-thon in response to a devastating earthquake that left pieces of Haiti unrecognizable. This project encouraged them to see the value in giving and to understand a community deeply is to also understand their needs; and that we may always be in a position to help one another. This week we had a woman from a school that we have been helping in Haiti, visit our third graders and she sent this email after her visit:

 “I thank you so much for keeping our mission alive in your school and so close to the hearts of the children and other teachers in the school. It is people like you who make the real difference in the world especially in the lives of the children who are total strangers to you and everyone else.”

It is our goal to create meaningful and relevant curriculum that enables students to achieve their full potential.

The people at Bank Street have had the confidence in us to urge us to follow our dream and that the work we are doing matters. We have had the good fortune to be in a diverse community and where the parents have entrusted us, the staff, and Alli and I to do the work we love to do.  Since Alli and I graduated from Bank Street in 2004 together we opened and have been running a highly sough after school along with an incredibly talented and dedicated group of teachers and staff with the support and mission of Bank Street informing our work.

Thank you for having the courage to support education. I am forever grateful to Bank Street – and to the school community who carries out our mission on a day-to-day basis. I feel very fortunate to be honored this evening and to be doing this work. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

tagged alumni, bscaa award, community roots, sara stone
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