Culture of Belonging
Every interaction between our students and staff is an opportunity to be better known. We are intentional in creating opportunities and experiences that support each member of the community in knowing and being known.
As I think about our school year, I think of ways we intentionally bring students and staff together early in the semester to start knowing each other.
- Our orientation/registration days in August are an opportunity for students to make connections with staff and students;
- Circles, learning groups, and peer assessments provide opportunities for student and staff dialogue;
- The Friday of the first week is both our Grade 9 Day and our New International Student Day, providing an opportunity for students to serve together and to play together;
- Our grade 12 river rafting trip allows our graduating class to connect in new ways to start their final year of high school.
We are always seeking to create a culture of belonging where students know they are cared for, that they are invested in, and that they can be celebrated.
A strong culture is one that permeates all aspects of life at school. At HDCH, we often refer to this as with-ness: we seek to create a learning culture that upholds great support for our students while challenging them with high expectations. Through a culture of with-ness, we aim to build restorative relations that uphold the dignity and worth of each member of our school community. High support and high expectations are integral to education at HDCH as we support student learning and cultivate student character.
By investing in our relationships with students from Day One of the school year, we create a foundation that supports our practices when we experience conflict in our community. When students make choices that negatively impact others, we seek to create an environment where students are heard, where they know they are cared for, and where we can invest in students to support them in healing broken relations and working toward positive change.
Knowing others allows us to start to understand their real stories. We develop empathy; we can enter their story understanding how they feel, and learn to care. When we care, we invest in others, and we can better celebrate their successes because we understand what they have overcome.
Sharing our stories
Stories are not always easy to share. Sometimes our stories involve pain, and sometimes we feel like our stories are not as unique or as special as the person beside us. A privilege we have at HDCH is to support students in storytelling – with love and grace – so that they learn that other stories are worth listening to and that their story is worth telling.
In this way, we hope that through being known, students recognize that they are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” and worthy of being loved. That they are known by those they learn with and known by their Father in heaven.
Owen Webb, Dean of Students
Hamilton District Christian High