The Tri-Town School Union is comprised of Boxford, Middleton and Topsfield. While we share a Central Office, and our schools are very strongly aligned curriculum-wise, we are very different communities, holding true to some very special community traditions.
Each community had singularly either thought about, or previously held a community read–books in which the entire community read–a supported venture with the town library. After seeing the success of the town-wide community read, the administrative teams for the Tri-Town School Union as well as the administrators from the three town libraries began having conversations about how we could work collaboratively with each other from our Preschool population through our High School population and beyond. During an administrative meeting, we were introduced to a book– Life is Good: A Book: How to Live with Purpose and Enjoy the Ride by Burt and John Jacobs.
Burt and John Jacobs are brothers who are the founders of the Life is Good brand. You know the ones we’re referring to–the brand that has such clever sayings, tee-shirts and apparel, that you can’t help but to feel optimistic when looking at them or wearing them.
The administrative team and librarians all purchased the book and read it before our next meeting. When we next met, we decided that this was the book we should focus on for the community read for the 2016-17 school year. We were inspired and excited by the message that the Jacobs brothers were spreading through their ten “Superpowers”!
The town libraries purchased multiple copies of the book for the community members to participate. The Tri-Town School Union purchased copies of the book for each school employee to read over the summer, at their leisure. Many teachers took pictures of themselves at the beach or pool with their Life is Good book–proving that life is, indeed, good!
Over the summer, each school did things a little differently, but yet, celebrated how Life is Good in our respective schools. We created bulletin boards, made plans with how we would introduce the ten Superpowers with our students in the fall. We also continued to meet within our administrative meetings with the librarians, and our excitement grew and grew!
As we savored the last wonderful weeks of the sweet summer, we also planned how we would kick off our school year with our theme of Life is Good loud and clear in our correspondence with staff and families. It also became part of our own conversation with each other. And as we experienced the stress that often accompanies the ending of summer and beginning of the school year, we continued to remind each other that Life is Good.
The Jacobs brothers wrote their book around ten “Superpowers”. The town librarians organized the book so that we could align a superpower for each month of the school year. September – Openness; October – Creativity; November – Gratitude; December – Compassion; January – Authenticity; February – Love; March – Fun; April – Humor; May – Simplicity; June – Courage
A slogan that is being developed within the Tri-Town is, “Be the Good for Others and Yourself”–a call to action. This is directly from the Jacobs brothers’ book. We are bringing up and teaching children during a most difficult era of time. This call to action is for all of us, because…the children are watching. While we may at times think that they aren’t paying attention, they are actually following our lead. If we lead them down this path of optimism and convince them that each one of us owns these ten Super Powers–powers that will help us all to lead creative, authentic, compassionate lives, we will have fulfilled our call to action.
Partnering with community agencies has been a main focus of this project. Working with the public libraries we will reach a wider audience among our three communities. The librarians will host book discussion groups and other activities for the communities at large. We have also partnered with the Tri-Town Council which provides services for youth and families. We have been teaching our students about the 40 Developmental Assets through the Search Institute over the past two school years with the help of the Tri-town Council. The ten Super Powers developed by the Jacobs brothers align very nicely with the developmental assets which help support our students and community members to lead happy, optimistic lives.
The Community Read will span through the school year. We will update the blog in the spring to let the MESPA community know just how successful it was. We are pretty confident that we will be sharing a lot of great ideas!
–Tri-Town School Union Principals and Director of Tech Ed.
Are you interested in sharing your ideas, insights and questions? If so, click here to sign up for a post. Julie Vincentsen, Principal of Ruggles Lane School, will reach out with specifics. Are you interested but nervous because you’ve never blogged before and don’t know where to begin? Don’t worry – as long as you know how to use Microsoft Word you will be up to this challenge. We write for our communities all the time – this just changes your audience. You probably could even take a current newsletter you’ve written and repurpose it for your colleagues!