The educator in me was immediately drawn to the flawless cursive, correct use of punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and the beautiful indentation that began the paragraph. Wasn’t it just yesterday that these same children were learning to print their names on a line and tie their shoes with those chubby fingers?
The display of academic progress these children have made since they began here five years ago was impressive. However, it was also clear to me that these students had accomplished so much more.
The letter presented me with a dilemma, a solution, and a compromise, all in a respectful and positive way. This is a skill that many of us as adults, still struggle with.
These fourth graders were concerned and disheartened that the cafeteria did not offer a gluten-free pizza option on Fridays. The letter stated, “Dominos has gluten-free cheese pizza. Since it might cost more, we are willing to pay two dollars extra for lunch.” I was impressed with this well-crafted letter, but even more impressed that these students had the initiative to write it and present it to me.
I immediately took the letter to Linda Bryant, who is responsible for making decisions regarding Randolph’s food services. She was motivated by the letter as well, and spoke with our Food Service Director, Keith Davis, about our need. His eager response led me to plan a meeting for us to discuss and sample new pizza options.
The students who signed the letter, along with Keith Davis, Betty Crutcher, and I met in a classroom. Keith brought fresh, hot samples of his gluten-free pizza and we geared up for a “heated” pizza discussion. The students tasted the pizza and were pleased as they deemed it “much better than the gluten-free pizza at Dominos.”
Randolph School is open and responsive to student needs. We are a team of educators who trust, encourage, and challenge students. These students respond by trusting, encouraging, and challenging us. We guide them in taking initiative, identifying problems respectfully, and questioning their peers and adult leaders. It is our belief that, in this world of unknown possibilities, we can prepare our students for the future by teaching them to ask questions and solve problems.
Because these Lower School students set forth on a mission to change an area in which they saw a need, we now have gluten-free pizza every Friday. Perhaps more important than the pizza, it is evident our students are learning that they have a voice in this world, can express it with confidence, and that voice will be heard and can make a difference.
What is ahead for these students in the next five years? I can only imagine the valuable life lessons they will continue to learn on their journey through Randolph, as we prepare them to become responsible and involved citizens.
Thanks to Meade Davis for helping to edit this article. Photo by Julie Harton.
Gluten-free pizza is available on both campuses for those who require it for a medical reason and by special arrangement with Keith Davis. Please call Mr. Davis, 256-799-6152, for more information.