On Friday night teachers at Northumberland Christian School (NCS) welcomed parents into their homes for a progressive dinner, the first of three major social events this year that correspond with the school’s theme for the year — Living Out Community.
The theme is internally focused on building the NCS community. The Bible verse for the year is Colossians 3:14: “And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.”
The Cobourg-based elementary school is in its third year of a three-part theme series. The first year the theme was called Reaching Out, which focused on looking at different countries each month and considering about how the school could help them. Last year the theme was Louder Than Words, looking at a different area of the community each month to help through actions.
Principal Cindy Warr says the progressive dinner social was an event planned in June, prior to receiving nine new families for the start of the 2010-2011 school year, which is a 25 per cent growth in the school’s population. She adds the growth makes it a “really good year to focus on building our own community.”
Participants received their map and rotation for the dinner on Friday. Five teachers hosted groups of six to eight parents, who visited each home for 30 minutes to an hour. Each home featured a different course, including appetizers, salad, soup, main course and dessert. As each group went through the homes during different time slots, they also ate their meal in some interesting combinations.
The event was an opportunity for teachers to get to know parents outside of the teacher/parent relationship, and for parents to get to know each other. The rule for the evening was to not talk about school, though Warr says there may have been some school talk.
The school also recently started a new family mentor program, matching volunteer experienced families with a new family. The experienced family connects with the new family to “show them the ropes” and follows up with a few phone calls throughout the year to see if everything is going okay, as well as before major school events like the membership meeting.
For the progressive dinner, participants who are mentors and new families were grouped together so they could start to build a relationship.
Parent Mary Cannatella was in a group with three other mothers and one father, who carpooled together to each home.
“It was a great night, even part of the fun was the travelling,” she says.
Cannatella says the night was a “win-win for everybody,” as both parents and teachers enjoyed themselves.
“I’ve talked to almost everyone who went and everybody enjoyed themselves, everybody loved it, everybody thought it was a wonderful time,” she says, adding it was nice to be invited into the homes of the staff members who “hosted so beautifully.”
Warr says the school is planning for its next social to be in the winter and be a whole-family event.