As Gardner Bullis School students return to the classroom this fall, the emphasis is on “connections.”
“As a community, we will focus on connecting to our best self, our learning and each other,” Principal Nadia Oskolkoff said.
To reinforce the theme, students, teachers and staff celebrated International Dot Day Sept. 15, based on the book “The Dot” by Peter H. Reynolds, and created a colorful banner.
“Using our schoolwide theme of ‘connections,’ each grade level created a sea of dots in their grade-level color,” said Jim Malone, vice president of communications for the Gardner Bullis PTA. “By using different shades of the colors in a rainbow, our art piece shows how we can come together to form something beautiful and cohesive. Multiage groups gathered safely to hear the story. Then with scissors, paper and a pen, we all made our mark and added a piece of ourselves to this beautiful rainbow of smiles.”
Kindergarten teacher Pam Loebner said “The Dot” conveys the message that connections between people can spark passion, confidence and creativity.
After a year of only being able to connect with their own students, Loebner said she and third-grade teacher Katie Brenny were excited to plan something to bring their “buddy classes” together. They landed on the Dot Day project.
“We were brainstorming some ideas when we saw a similar project done by some older kids using watercolors,” Loebner said. “It was on a smaller scale. I thought it would be a fun project to do with the whole school, but with some tweaking.”
Loebner shared the idea at a staff meeting, where she had 100% buy-in from all. Loebner and Brenny prepared the colored construction paper, including a video for students to follow along as they turned squares into circles by cutting them out.
“We placed a literal sea of paper dots in various shades of the rainbow onto a backing paper, marveling at how great they all looked,” Loebner said. “The only instructions the classes received were to cut and draw. The circles all start out the same, but look so different when they are done.”
The project was originally intended for Loebner’s kindergartners to teach their third-grade buddies how to cut the circles. Loebner said one third-grader exclaimed, with great excitement, that he could already do it. Another student, a kindergartner, sounded just like Loebner in instruction-giving, telling her older buddy to take her time.
The banner is on display in front of Gardner Bullis’ Los Altos Hills campus.
“Putting the banner together was so much fun,” Loebner said. “The connections between all of the kids were wonderful. The banner is a visual representation of our connections. As a staff, we search for ways to build community. This was perfect.”