Murray Elementary School Welcomes Girl Scouts Tree of Kindness, Plans to Grow in 2013
With the school year winding into its last week, one might think that site activities are slowing down. To the contrary, all school sites have been brimming with assemblies, open houses, field trips and graduation preparations. On May 29, Murray Elementary School conducted a very powerful event that was meant to touch each and every student. In addition, there will be dramatic physical changes to the Murray campus in 2013. OneDublin.org had the recent opportunity to report on both of these items.
The Crossroads Girl Scouts Association serves the geographic area for Girl Scouts in Pleasanton, Dublin and Sunol and for its 1,700 members. The National Girl Scouts organization recently celebrated its 100th Anniversary with a massive expo at the Alameda County Fairgrounds where over 20,000 scouts convened to celebrate the ongoing mission initiated by Juliette Low, founder of Girl Scouts of the U.S.A. This is the largest voluntary organization of girls in the world.
The mission of Girl Scouts has always been to develop both confidence and competence in young women. Additionally, community service has been a primary element of living the Girl Scout creed. As a simple, yet meaningful demonstration of this, OneDublin.org reached out to Troop 30819 Leader, Laura Moore to understand the genesis of their “Tree of Kindness” project that they recently fulfilled at Murray Elementary School. This project was conducted under the guise of accomplishing a Bronze Award for their seven-girl scout troop. This represents step one in a three-part process to achieve their Gold Award – equivalent to a Boy Scout earning his Eagle Award. The troop members are currently fifth graders.
OneDublin.org: How did the idea of a Tree of Kindness come about and how did the troop decide to associate this project with their Bronze Award?
Laura Moore: “After reviewing various projects by other troops and examining the needs of our community, the girls concluded that they wanted to produce something lasting at their school. The focus shifted to empowering students to combat potential bullying at their school. Though there are existing programs in place, they wanted to focus on what they could do to proactively fight bullying. During the week of May 21, the girls worked each snack recess and after lunch to help kids sign pledge forms. With each pledge, students received a wristband and a raffle ticket.”
OneDublin.org: How were you able to reflect the impact of the pledges and what steps were made by the troop to ensure a successful execution of the program?
Moore: “As an extension of the Week of Respect and Kindness (W.O.R.K.), an empty paper tree was posted in the Multi-Purpose Room. The concept was to have individual students write a pledge of kindness onto a leaf that would then be applied to the tree. Prior to that, our members spent hours researching exactly what qualifies as bullying. They also invested time in identifying times when they might have been bullied or even times when they’ve possibly done things that could be perceived as bullying or just not nice. The introspection time was meaningful and they were honest with each other.”
OneDublin.org: Finally, what lessons did your girl scouts learn from participating in a project that could potentially reach all Murray students?
Moore: “This changed their perspective and it helped in how they relate to others in difficult situations. They have acted as role models and have worked to empower others to try to see both sides and to work to combat bullying through acting with kindness.”
The discussion on Murray Elementary would not be complete without providing an update on the physical changes that will be occurring at the site beginning in Spring 2013. As another election cycle begins in the next week, the remainder of the Measure C bond funds will be retired soon. These funds had been targeted years ago for capital improvements throughout the entire District. At long last, Murray will receive the benefits of these dedicated funds. The primary elements of this project will be to demolish the existing Kindergarten classrooms, rebuild them deeper into the campus and to create a far more efficient ingress/egress flow with additional parking. As one of the older sites in DUSD, OneDublin.org had the opportunity to discuss the improvements which will be occurring less than one year from now with Principal Carrie Nerheim.
OneDublin.org: What will the impact of these improvements mean to Murray Elementary?
Carrie Nerheim: “Our new drop-off/parking areas will alleviate the traffic on Davona. In addition to better traffic flow, the drop-off loop will make a Student Safety Patrol possible. Additionally, our new classrooms will allow for continued growth to serve our local families.
OneDublin.org: In spring 2013, MES will become an active construction site. How will your staff and families be notified about safety and project progress?
Nerheim: “Project progress can be monitored through our online newsletter. We will work with our PFC to put out email blasts for safety updates. I worked as a teacher at Frederiksen Elementary when they were undergoing their construction of new Kindergarten classrooms and the safety of students, staff and families was the number one priority. I will be talking with the Project Manager for the construction on a daily basis to ensure that all are safe.”
OneDublin.org: The upcoming improvements to Murray are only possible due to the funding providing by the community supported Measure C. If any future funding measures are successful, what other site improvements could you foresee at Murray?
Nerheim: “Dublin has been particularly adept at gauging the needs of the future. Future measures would allow the campus master planned modernizations, renovations and potential expansions to continue at our site. On a personal note, Dublin’s commitment to students is unparalleled and I look forward to their continued success!”
We are confident that the lessons of the Tree of Kindness have positively impacted all students at Murray Elementary. Next year, the physical improvements to the site will add even greater Cougar pride.