Wildcat Mountain staff makes time for giving
HIGHLANDS RANCH - While there is never enough time in our busy teachers’ lives, the staff at Wildcat Mountain Elementary School has made a point to make some room for giving. During Wildcat’s Professional Learning Community (PLC) meetings (days without students that are typically dedicated to professional development) the staff often uses a bit of its time to serve the community. The work not only feels good for the teachers, support staff and administrators, but serves as a model for students.
So far this year this has included a field trip to a home for individuals with Alzheimer’s, where volunteer students and teachers played games with the residents, painted nails, and drew pictures. Also, this year, they helped prepare sandwiches for a homeless shelter and held a clothing drive.
A couple of weeks ago, the Wildcat Mountain PLC meeting began with a videoconference via Skype with Carrie Morgridge, who co-leads the Morgridge Family Foundation with her husband John. She gave away copies of her new book, Every Gift Matters, to the Wildcat Mountain teachers and discussed how volunteerism and philanthropy can make a large impact not just on the beneficiaries, but on the givers as well.
“What matters is not writing a check but being able to make a small difference for a family or a child, and doing it over and over again,” Morgridge told the teachers. It’s more how you feel at the end of the day when you give.”
The Morgridge Family Foundation has provided grants to teachers and schools throughout Douglas County, including Wildcat Mountain Elementary. She originally discovered the innovative 21st century education that was occurring in Douglas County from Superintendent Liz Fagen.
“She said ‘You have to come see this school’,” Morgridge said, referring to Mammoth Heights Elementary’s Primary Innovation Studio.
The studio was started by then-Mammoth Heights teacher, MaryLisa Harper, who now serves as Elementary Curriculum Coordinator in DCSD’s World Class Education department. Harper helped provide the introduction to Wildcat Mountain and facilitated the video conference with Morgridge.
In order to get students involved in community outreach, Morgridge stressed to the Wildcat Mountain teachers the importance of allowing students the creativity and space to come up with their own solutions for issues.
“What we find so much is teachers-- because you have the answers-- are anxious to give those answers. We need teachers to allow our students to come up with their own answers, allow them to explore. This is the best time to allow them to fail, and it will be okay. We fail all the time at the Foundation, just so you know, it just means we did less good.”
RESOURCES FOR SCHOOLS AND/OR PLC’S SEEKING WAYS TO START COMMUNITY OUTREACH PROJECTS
With so many issues to tackle, where do we start? Morgridge recommends the following as starting points: