Armed with white envelopes with a map of the school stapled to the front and detailed instructions from their teacher, Laura, 6-7s students Arthur and Gordon headed off on their first day of collecting attendance and lunch slips. They paused briefly as they tried to remember the route they needed to take to the 8-9s classroom—the first on their list of rooms to visit—before heading up the curved marble staircase to the fourth floor.
Over the next 15 minutes the pair traversed the school, venturing to floors and classrooms they don’t see on the average day. Along the way there were questions: Can we walk through the 5-6s classroom? Where is the attendance sheet for the 7-8s? How do we get to the sixth grade classroom? They were questions the duo had to figure out the answers to on their own.
After their tour of the school, Arthur and Gordon brought their envelopes stuffed with the pink and blue slips they collected along the way to the Living Room for sorting before handing them over to Lorraine, Manhattan Country School’s receptionist and administrative assistant.
This task, which is shared among all the students in the 6-7s class, is about more than keeping track of who’s at school on a given day. It plays a part in the students learning about community and responsibility.
“The 6-7s study job responsibilities and the interdependency of workers,” says 6-7s Teacher Laura Swindler. “We look at our class jobs and our first school job as way to study how we help each other.”
Attendance is just one example of one of many jobs classes at MCS—starting in the 6-7s—take on to support the school. These responsibilities, which have been a part of MCS since the beginning, build students’ knowledge of others in the school and help them understand the interdependence of people in a community. What’s more, these responsibilities enhance academic learning, as students make practical use of new language arts, mathematics, Spanish and computer science skills.
After learning their way around the school in the 6-7s, 7-8s students take on the role of school messengers, delivering notes and other important documents for teachers and administrators. The 8-9s class runs La Tienda, the school store, in the spring, while 9-10s serve as reading buddies for younger students in the school. The fifth graders publish a school newspaper, sixth graders help in the library and seventh-graders work with the 4-5s class as part of their child development study. The eighth graders apply the knowledge they have gained about the school over the years to their role as admissions tour guides. Through their work, each class contributes to building and sustaining a productive school community.