There is no shortage of compassion displayed by students, faculty, and staff at Ross School, but when students at the Lower School realized that compassion was not included among the school’s Core Values—ideals that every Ross student is expected to aspire to—Chloe H., Carmi H., Morgan S, and the then-fifth grade class set out to change that.
After a meeting with Ross School Founder Courtney Sale Ross, the young ladies prepared a written proposal to have compassion permanently instated as a core value.
"Living with compassion is living with love and happiness. This is something that we are mindful of every day. However, we believe that if it were a Ross Core Value, the whole school could focus on showing it more and understand its true value and importance," the letter to Mrs. Ross read. "Like our motto, 'Know Thyself in Order to Serve,' compassion should be part of who we are and what we practice every day."
As they prepare to graduate from the Lower School, the now-sixth grade class has embarked on a mission to make peace and compassion their legacy on campus. At last week’s first-ever Compassion Assembly, it seemed they have already made an impact.
The event began with a dramatic reading of Mem Fox’s Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. The third grade shared the book, in which a young boy performs a heartfelt act of compassion for his elderly neighbor, because it helped to frame their monthlong reflection and study of compassion. Mem Fox’s book helped the students to recognize that they could practice compassion in their daily lives, even at a young age.
In later classroom discussions, students shared instances in which they felt they would have liked compassion to have been shown to them, and Sharon Burns introduced students to the concept of compassion shoes, which they tried on to experience what it felt like to walk in others’ shoes. These conversations inspired the third graders to create a skit, which they shared with the entire student body at the assembly.
“I was very proud of how the students expressed honesty about classroom situations, and I was impressed that they were able to demonstrate their skit in a way that students in grades nursery through six would understand,” said third grade team leader Meghan Hillen. “The students truly do care about each other.”
“We are mindful of compassion every day on the lower campus,” said Jeanette Tyndall, head of the lower and middle school. “The word has become part of our everyday vocabulary and practice because we believe that compassion can change the world and that the only way for children to develop compassion is for us to provide opportunities for them to practice and experience it in their daily lives.”