Collage of photos from Buckland Elementary School students and staff, along with photos of an Air Force ROTC cadet and an Air Force officer

Kindergartener students at Buckland Mills Elementary School have been learning about the many types of helpers in their community and the importance of showing gratitude for their work.

While exploring the subject, students demonstrated a deep interest in how members of the military serve their country and community. This gave Gwendolen Pirisino, a kindergarten teacher at Buckland Mills Elementary, an idea. Pirisino developed a project, with the help of Amy Hardt, International Baccalaureate coordinator, where students could explore ways to show their appreciation, while learning first-hand about the impact these helpers have on the local and global community.

Pirisino's class was introduced to Principal Kelle Stroud's husband, retired Major Andre Stroud, their son Andre, an Air Force ROTC Cadet, and daughter Lauren, an Air Force 1st Lieutenant. Students went to work writing letters and drawing pictures for Lauren and her unit stationed in Qatar. The school engaged the Buckland Mills community by asking them to donate food and snacks for care packages being prepared by the class.

"Students were able to develop empathy for our troop members by imagining what it must be like to be far away from family and friends while serving in another country. They were excited to show their appreciation for the troops and do something to bring them a smile. I think this helped them understand our interconnectedness as community members," said Pirisino.

Questions about the kind of snacks they like,, what they do for fun when not working, and what it's like to travel to another country and be in the military, greeted Stroud's husband and son as they spent time with the students, before collecting the care packages for shipping to Lauren's unit in the Middle East.

Stroud added, "My family is so grateful to our kindergarten Wildcats for supporting Lauren. We are extremely proud of her and her colleagues and all that they are doing to support the safety of our country. I appreciate our kindergarten teachers for launching this project and how they tied in the International Baccalaureate Primary Years Programme key concepts of connection, function, and responsibility allowing the children to learn authentically across the disciplines, carrying the big idea into each subject area smoothly and conjoined. Thank you Wildcats!"

Family and Community Engagement logo