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Celebrating 30 Years: Our Stories Build Community

Celebrating 30 Years: Our Stories Build Community



Words come easily to Nan Seymour. She is a natural storyteller who shares her gift of “narrative encouragement” through various projects including The Bee and River Writing. McGillis students in grades 3 through 8 attended a virtual workshop hosted by Nan to prepare them to share stories of our values as part of our 30th Anniversary celebration.


Stories unite us. They create connections and foster a greater understanding of ourselves and others. The act of storytelling creates culture, builds community, and improves our ability to practice empathy. As we celebrate our 30th year and the values that make us unique, we are collecting stories of the impact our values have on our community.


During the student workshop, Nan shared the elements of a good story: scene, summary, and reflection. She encouraged students to tap into their senses when describing a scene: smell, taste, touch, sight, and sound. And, she asked students to think about a specific moment when one of our values impacted them. The goal, said Nan, was to be brave enough to share an imperfect story snapshot to be included in our 30th Anniversary story archives and for consideration at the live storytelling event on November 13. 


The response to the student workshop was overwhelmingly positive and our students were eager to craft and share their stories. In 5th Grade, students spent class time thinking about which scene they would like to share. Renee shared the importance of practicing Derech Ertez, having respect for all, by apologizing to friends when you’ve done something wrong. Nixon shared a memory of his family sharing their food with someone who was hungry and in need, practicing Tzedakah, giving to others. Violet told the story of sharing a toy with a stranger who had lost theirs, practicing Gemilut Hasadim, doing good and kind deeds.


Middle School students were given a writing assignment to craft a scene with the option to submit the story for the storytelling event. An impressive level of thought and creativity were involved in crafting their stories before they presented them in Writing Class. The 8th Graders shared their stories of good and kind deeds, community, and giving to others -- making it clear that we all have a story about our values to tell.


Our community participated in a similar virtual workshop. Our hope is that the workshop elicits stories of the impact of our McGillis values from both current and past members of our school community. And of course, we hope you will join us on Saturday, November 13 for our live Storytelling Event.


Listen to some of the McGillis community's stories, by visiting our 30th Anniversary webpage.