A major theme of Mrs. Christa Robinson's Grade 6 Health curriculum at Wilbraham & Monson Academy is kindness and empathy.
Mrs. Robinson took that theme, and her students, off campus May 14 to put a school year's worth of work to the test.
After exchanging letters three times with a Grade 1 class at nearby Mile Tree School in Wilbraham, Mrs. Robinson and her students met their younger pen pals face to face.
"We want to built authentic social and emotional learning," Mrs. Robinson explained. "I talk about empathy, kindness, collaboration, social and emotional skills, relationship skills – all these things in the classroom. But when you're doing practical activities, where the students are practicing these skills, this is what counts."
And WMA's Grade 6 students made their opportunity count, stepping up and engaging in conversation with the youngsters.
"I thought it was really cool to see the first graders and connecting with them and talking with them," Owen Swanson '24 said. "They were surprised. We were huge compared to them. They liked talking to us and asking questions."
Callie Dunbar '24 added, "There's always value when you meet kids from another school, whether it's locally or not. It's important to meet someone from somewhere else because they might have a different experience. And, I went to Mile Tree so it was good to see it in a different perspective."
For Mrs. Robinson, not only was the trip satisfying from an academic point of view, but also personally. For part of the friendly visit, the two groups went outdoors and enjoyed each other's company in an area designated as an outdoor classroom, which was dedicated in memory of Mrs. Robinson's mother-in-law, Joyce Robinson, a highly-respected 25-year teacher at Mile Tree who loved teaching her students about the outdoors.