I’ve said it before and’ll say it again: a school should be a memory-making machine.  For its students, of course, but for the adults in the community, too! We should also have the right to experience moments we will treasure for years. Ever since I started out as an educator, I have strived to organize and contribute to motivating projects for students that I can enjoy as well.  I have always considered it a recipe for success, which probably explains why I love my job so much!

Over the past 25 years, I have had the opportunity to create many lasting memories for my students (and myself): the first Nuits du c0de, unforgettable trips to DC and Istanbul with my students from Rome, student shows in Shanghai, the first baccalauréat ceremonies in Taiwan–none of which I will ever forget. Experience has taught me–and continues to teach me–that these types of memories are not contingent on the scope of a project, the length of a trip, or the fact that they are extraordinary one-off events. Lasting memories can also be forged in the daily life of a school, in the simple things we put in place for students, that they then appropriate and transform into something infinitely greater and infinitely more beautiful.

A few weeks ago, one of our student ambassadors–a group of Middle School volunteers assembled by Mireille to attend certain school functions–responded to a parent who expressed concern about the relatively small size of our Middle School: “It doesn’t really feel like it’s a small Middle School, it actually feels like we’re one big class!” Behind that phrase (which I am very envious not to have coined!) lies the work we have put in since the start of the year with our weekly Middle School assemblies. These assemblies have become, for me, a regular source of joy, full of moments of pure happiness.

Every Friday from 3:00 to 3:45 p.m., the entire Middle School (49 students this year) meets in the Theater Space to wrap the week up. We review the event calendar for the weeks ahead (so the students understand everything that’s going on and know they can get involved if they want to), we prepare upcoming gatherings like Middle School dances and movie nights, we sometimes touch on more complicated topics (recently: cyber-bullying and the conflict between  Hamas and Israel), students who celebrate particular holidays enlighten others on their meaning and origins (What exactly is Diwali? Rosh Hashanah?). We celebrate birthdays and individual and collective achievements, and we sometimes play a game. We always finish with a moment of gratitude. At first, I thanked certain students on behalf of the teaching team, but within a few weeks, the students took over. Now, they are the ones who do the thanking. They thank each other, they tell touching anecdotes about their struggles and how a classmate helped them out, they thank people who are not even in the room.

A few weeks ago, I stopped hosting the assemblies. They are now entirely run by students who volunteer in advance. It’s an opportunity for them to speak clearly in public so everyone can understand. It’s an opportunity for them to listen to what others have to say and to invite them to speak up. It’s an opportunity for them to enjoy living and working together, to enjoy coming together weekly and sharing experiences.

We leave every weekend with a warm, fuzzy feeling because these are simple things, yet they are precious. Our middle schoolers might not always realize it, but I promise you, they are making memories.