“A Culture of Learning and of Love”
Only six NYC public schools received the National Blue Ribbon Award this year from the US Department of Education. Our beloved school partner P.S. 249 The Caton School was one of the six! They honored Thrive Collective by inviting us to cut the ribbon for our newest mural at the school during their Blue Ribbon celebration on May 26th.
The theme for the mural, “Weaving the World,” aptly described school’s Blue Ribbon celebration. The community’s interwoven support for one another was apparent as students, teachers, principals, council members, parents, staff, school partners, and supporters all gathered to share in the joyous recognition of their exemplary school community.
In addition to recognizing the school, principal Elisa Brown received the Terrell H. Bell Award for Outstanding Leadership. Principal Brown is one of only eight principals across the country to receive the Bell Award in 2021.
The community culture of holding each other up was apparent in speeches made by students, school leaders, and community supporters throughout the ceremony.
Principal Brown explained, “The children are lovely. I love them. These are my seven hundred and forty children. It’s so, so important to build a culture of learning and of love.”
While Assistant Principal Ana DeJesus, who served the Caton School as a first-grade and kindergarten teacher for 26 years before taking on her current role reflected, “I am proud of our entire community.”
Later on, Deputy Chancellor of School Leadership, Desmond Blackburn, said in his speech, “This can’t happen without leadership. It can’t happen without togetherness. It can’t happen without generations of leadership.”
The Caton School’s motto is “college begins in pre-kindergarten.” Above all, Principal Brown spoke to the importance of creating a community of support for their children as they worked to live this motto. The school demonstrated its commitment to fostering the creativity, intelligence, and joy of their students throughout the celebration.
Students shared what the award meant to them through their words, dance, and music. For example, student Council President and 5th grader Adriana said, “Reaching this grand achievement has made my heart proud.”
Throughout the ceremony, students shared their creative spirit in beautiful ways. For instance, students shared performances by their violin ensemble and though Ifetayo drumming and dance performances from the African Diaspora.
“We are not a plain blank wall kind of school”
The celebration concluded with the mural ribbon cutting. Participating students from 4th and 5th grade after school art club explained what the mural they created with Thrive Collective meant to them: “We can’t believe we are standing here in front of what used to be a plain blank wall. Well, we decided we are not a plain blank wall kind of school. We are a bright school, a colorful school, a brilliant school… We are P.S. 249, The Caton School, and we are a National Blue Ribbon School.”
Another student added: “This mural is a collection of our drawings and ideas about how we’re connected. Do you notice all the ribbon? These are the ribbons that weave our school together.”