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Corps Member Monday: PITW #98 All People- Especially Young People- Need the Same Eight Things

September 23, 2013

By: Emma Sullivan, Team Leader proudly serving on the Albemarle Foundation Team at Merrydale Elementary School

Meaning, adventure, community, power, respect, structure, challenge and opportunity.

This is a new year at Merrydale, and let me tell you- there are been SO. MANY. CHANGES. As someone who is known to cry if her morning shower routine gets switched around, the word change usually has a negative connotation in my mind. But this is different- our school’s administration has worked incredibly hard to ensure that our students receive the very best education this year, and it has paid off. Our school has an exceptional sense of culture, and the positive vibes are rubbing off on the students’ positive attitudes, and therefore their academic achievement.

Every morning after breakfast, all students gather in the commons for a morning assembly called Harambee, a Swahili word meaning “come together.” In Harambee, students are showered with several of the eight things mentioned in PITW #98:

We see structure in the very existence of Harambee. Students know exactly what will happen when they come to school each morning, which is so important. A sense of community pervades the commons during Harambee. Everyone is gathered for the same reason every day: to improve the lives of students. The way I see it, simply allowing students to experience this sense of community, and feel pride for themselves, their classmates, and their entire school is a sign of respect for our students as learners. Having a safe space in which they have the opportunity to share a recognition, be challenged to try something new, such as perform readiness check in front of their peers, be seen doing something good in front of the whole school, and experience joy every single morning with people who care about them is amazing. I truly believe that Harambee is an opportunity for our students to find meaning in their education. The whole assembly is a tool that is filled with power. And of course, every day at Merrydale is an adventure.



Here’s the daily Harambee agenda, along with my thoughts.

Pledge of Allegiance

Mission Statement

Jaguar Pledge

A selected group of students recites the Mission Statement and the Jaguar Pledge, and the student body repeats after them in call and response style chant. I love that our students know the mission statement of the school, because it is filled with positive words that they get to carry with them throughout the day.

Readiness Check

One morning, our school’s principal joined us for our first circle, and asked if we could adapt readiness check for the students. We obviously said yes, which was the best decision, because it is SO cute, and extremely helpful for everyone in the school!

Jaguar Chant

Who are we?

We are the M.E.S. mighty jags!

What does a JAAG represent?

Jaguars Achieving Academic Growth!

How do we achieve growth?

Through our SPOTS!

What do our SPOTS symbolize?

Scholars, Positive, Over achieving, Teams Players, Striving for success!

What’s our success story?

The “S” on my chest tells me that FAILURE IS NOT AN OPTION.



This is an opportunity to recognize others for something they did well. Our principal usually has several recognitions for teachers, staff, and students.

Moment of Silence

This is probably my favorite part of Harambee. Not only because it is an actual quiet moment in an elementary school, which is pretty much a superhuman feat, but because during this time, one of the instructional coaches calmly instructs students to close their eyes and slowly breath in and out, while reminds them of all of the good things that they are going to do today. She tells them to breath in the good, positive things that are going to happen, and breath out all of the bad, negative thoughts and feelings. To close, everyone whispers another swahili word, “ashe,” which means “let it be.”


 Thanks for reading!! Now breath out all of your negative thoughts, breath in the positive, and …repeat after me: ashe. Let it be.


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