Knowing who you are is a key ingredient to feeling good about yourself.
That is the assumption behind an annual project that all sixth-grade students complete at Eastern Mennonite School. This year’s sixth grade “Who Am I?” project notebooks are currently on display in the school library, providing an opportunity for students, teachers and staff at all levels to get to know the class of 2027.
“Middle school years are full of change and at times you may feel awkward,” says Susan Melendez, sixth grade teacher who oversees the project as part of language arts curriculum.
“However,” she tells students in the project introduction, “this is a good time to take a look around you and ask some key questions: Who is a good role model for who you want to become? Where do you go to find love, laughter, support, and care during times when you don’t understand your own feelings and emotions?”
The project helps students to identify important people in their lives, she says, and to to think about who they hope to become as they grow older.
The notebooks on display showcase students’ personal style. Pages in sleeve protectors feature poems, prose, artwork, photos, free-hand lettering, computer-generated graphic design, scrap booking skills, and stickers.
The suggested order of contents invites students to include:
– a family photo
– a timeline of your life
– schedule of a typical day
– reflection on an important person
– thoughts on an obstacle to over come
– insight on a hero as well as a memory of a parent or someone you respect
– an illustration of your faith journey
– a poem on the theme, “Then and Now”
– lists of favorite activities and hobbies, as well as hopes and dreams
– a thank you letter to parents/guardians
– a closing reflection “About the author”
In the books you also find personal mission statements, favorite recipes and other creative additions.
This is one of of my favorite projects,” Melendez says. “Of course it’s a great way for us as teachers to get to know them better. More importantly, students often make important discoveries as they research, write and create.”
Part of a longer journey
The project is a great example of EMS middle school curriculum and education philosophy, says Maria Archer, K-12 principal. “It’s a project that engages the students’ whole selves, with space to show personal creativity. It encourages self reflection, interaction with others and faith formation.”
“It’s one of my favorite projects,” Melendez says. “They make important discoveries as they research, write and create.”
Throughout their middle and high school experience, students will continue to have opportunity to reflect on their faith and values, and how those shape their life choices. High school culminates with Kingdom Living class in which seniors present to peers, teachers, family and friends about their life and faith journey, next steps and dreams for the future.