In this challenge, students are introduced to the contributions made by various adults in the school. To begin this study, select one of the roles students will encounter (e.g., teacher-librarian, custodian, secretary). Invite this person to the classroom to meet students and talk briefly about what he or she does in the school and how this helps students. Take students on an "in-school" field trip to the location(s) where this person works so they know how to find the person and can see him or her in action. As a class, list all the things they have learned about this person's role in the school. From this list, identify things this person does that help others (e.g., teaches students about the library, finds books for students, helps students' read, takes care of the books and other resources, makes the library a nice place to be, helps teachers find resources, finds and buys new books and resources for the library). As a class or individually, decide from the list of contributions by this person which is this individual's most important contribution to the school (i.e., the contribution that is most helpful to students in the class). Prepare a note of appreciation and send it to the person. You may want to adapt the chart and strategies for Selecting the Best Thing (Support Material) to structure and assess this activity.
Follow this procedure to introduce students to other adult helpers and their roles in the school. In each case, invite students to consider from among each person's contributions, which is that individual's most important contribution. Do not compare contributions from different individuals, but stress that each adult contributes to the school community in important and different ways. Follow up each inquiry with a note of appreciation to that person.
Adapted from Mary Abbott, Roland Case and Jan Nicol (eds), Contributing to Family and Community (Richmond, BC: The Critical Thinking Consortium, 2002), pp. 41-51.