A central value of The Brick Church School is that children learn that they are part of a community. Teaching children to think of others is a process that continues throughout their years at the School. Teachers treat children with respect and teach them to respect each other and respect their environment. This includes proper use of materials, care of their classroom including job assignments, and care of the outside world. Teachers help children to discover and treasure the School’s basic values through praise and encouragement and setting standards. A child who shows empathy is praised. When a child spills something, others are encouraged to help. If a child is hurt, others will get ice or sit with that child for comfort. When a child returns after an absence, he or she is greeted warmly and welcomed back. Materials being misused are put away for a time if discussing proper use is not successful. It is accepted that we all make mistakes. Teachers admit when they make mistakes and create an environment where it is safe for children to admit it as well.
The concept that we are part of a community is further developed during the School’s Chapel service. All of the children and faculty gather once a week for a brief service. The Senior Minister or the Associate Minister for Christian Education of The Brick Presbyterian Church leads the service. Children greet friends, siblings and former teachers as they enter. As two children, assisted by the Minister, light two candles, the Minister says, “As [child’s name] and [child’s name] light the Chapel candles, we remember that it is God who created us and it is God who gives us light.” The children then sing a song followed by a brief talk by the Minister. These talks are variations on one theme: that God loves us and we should love each other. There are Chapel services in December that celebrate and teach the children about Christmas and Hanukkah.
After the Chapel talk, the community repeats the Chapel prayer after the Minister: “We thank you, God, for family and friends. We thank you, God, for this time together to sing and to pray. Help us to remember to share your love. Amen.” After another song, two children help snuff the candles, and the service closes with the words, “As [child’s name] and [child’s name] snuff the candle lights, we remember that the light of God goes with you wherever you go.” The service ends with a blessing which the children are told is like a gift: “God be with you. God go with you today and always.”
This concept of community extends from the classrooms to all who work in the Church and School building to the neighborhood and to those in need. Children show respect for others who work in the building by passing their offices quietly. Some classes visit or invite Church staff members to visit them. One Sexton came into the classroom to fix a toy, which enabled the children to form a special bond with him. Events including parents and children enhance the sense of community such as Chapel on Parents Visiting Day and at Christmas, the Children’s Fair, the biennial Family Festival and the Closing Program. Children are taught to consider those less fortunate by bringing food to Chapel at Thanksgiving. At Christmas, they bring in gifts for those less fortunate. Hygiene packets were collected and assembled for the earthquake victims in Haiti. Collections are made for Yorkville Common Pantry throughout the year.