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Practicing Gratitude with Community

Brevard, NC | Kayla C. Leed

‘Tis the season for traditions! At Mountain Sun Community School there are many ways these traditions are celebrated, both in school and in the homes of our students. “Belong” is one of the five keywords rooting Mountain Sun Community School’s philosophy. In this season of giving and receiving, MSCS embraces belonging to a diverse and thriving multi-age community.

Mountain Sun celebrates differences and strives to create an inclusive and accepting environment in which we appreciate each person’s unique gifts and strengths. In such an atmosphere of compassionate trust, each individual is able to grow and thrive. We believe the school should play an integral role in the development of a child’s communication, collaboration, and conflict resolution skills as they serve a variety of communities locally and globally.

As Thanksgiving gatherings approach and the shortest day of the year gets closer we look forward to more reasons to be with friends, family and take time to enjoy good food with them.

On Sunday, November 17th, Mountain Sun hosted its first community meeting of the year, a time for families to join together over a potluck meal. The community meeting is a blend of parents, grandparents, children, guardians, neighbors, friends, teachers, and staff enjoying each other’s company, learning new names, and reconnecting with old friends.

After the classroom and school-wide updates are shared, the children perform a song before sending the community off to enjoy a most delicious, homemade meal.

“Children flourish when they are surrounded by a strong community,” said Nicole Mihalas, Board Chair, “Mountain Sun Community School community meetings let our children know how many amazing people they have supporting them.”

These traditions of gathering over fellowship and food are reflected in the classrooms. On Friday, November 22nd, MSCS students celebrated Thanksgiving over an annual tradition: Friendship Stew.

The children plan, prep, and gather to make something special happen in and around their classrooms. A few Coyotes, a couple Monarchs, a group of Acorns, a sprinkling of Otters, and lastly a splash of Owls complete a fun group to spend time with during our traditional rotation of exciting activities.

As groups come into the classroom they are welcomed with the delicious smell of the friendship stew. Earlier in the week families contribute fresh vegetables, beans and everything needed to make the festive snack for everyone while the children listen to the classic children’s book Stone Soup being read.

The day before Acorns work hard cutting the produce, calculating the recipe and starting the stew so it can cook overnight., “I enjoy getting to see the preparations and hard work that the Acorns put into the stew,” said Janna Carlson, assistant Acorn teacher, “They also add plenty of love. It is amazing to see everyone enjoy the snack. As the groups work together to get from place to place and everyone gets enough to eat. They help each other in beautiful and kind ways. I feel lucky to get the chance to see all of our students being their kindest and most patient selves.”

Mountain Sun students realize their connections and responsibilities to communities near and far. By tending to their classrooms and each other, students practice acts of kindness that build a foundation of caring that can extend outward. As they get older, they engage in service projects to understand and help other communities in Brevard and the world at large.

Our Monarch and Coyote classes raise funds for local nonprofits and projects every year. This year, our Monarch class will host a bake sale to raise funds for the Christmas Blessings program at The Sharing House.

Making these connections within our Mountain Sun community and extending it out into our greater communities is an integral part of creating a sense of belonging within communities.

Mountain Sun Community School is an independent, nonprofit school serving Preschool through Middle School and utilizes nature-based Montessori and other methods to provide a unique, inspired education for each child. Mountain Sun Community School is currently enrolling students for the 2019-20 Academic Year. MSCS is a United Way of Transylvania County community partner. For more information, please visit www.mountainsunschool.org or call 828.885.2555.