Country School Students Practice Empathy

The Country School is committed to a social and emotional learning as well as traditional academics. A community of learners, the faculty and staff regularly discuss the school’s culture, and at the core of these discussions is Responsive Classroom, an educational approach associated with higher student achievement and improved school climate. One aspect of this program is the school’s five-year rotation of CARES (Cooperation, Assertion, Respect and Responsibility, Empathy, and Self-control). This year, PreSchool through 8th Grade students will place special emphasis on the theme of Empathy. 

Recently 5th Graders read A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park, a novel based on a true story that involves two characters, Salva (a real person) and Nya (a fictitious character), living in South Sudan at different times. Nya’s walks twice a day, every day, to a pond to get water for her family, but since the pond is so far away from her home, she has no time for anything else. Ultimately, Salva rescues the village by building a well there.

Practicing empathy by walking in Nya’s shoes, 5th Grade students and teachers filled 20 one-gallon jugs of water and walked a little over one mile, a shorter distance than Nya’s trek, on The Country School’s campus and the adjacent Blue Trail. At the end of their journey, the students reflected on the difficulty of the task, acknowledged taking clean water for granted, and recognized the importance of clean water, especially during this time of COVID-19. This unconventional lesson, intended to go beyond the pages of their summer reading, will last these students a lifetime.
341 Opening Hill Road, Madison, CT 06443
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Founded in 1955, The Country School is a coeducational, independent school serving students in PreSchool-Grade 8. The Country School is committed to active, hands-on learning and a vigorous curriculum that engages the whole child.