The Magic of the Peace Garden #SOLC19

In the main hallway of our school, in a quite alcove of sorts, is a Peace Garden. It isn’t much of a garden at all, but it is a peaceful place. It was created in memory of a teacher who worked at my school 15-20 years ago. Sadly, she and her newborn child were both lost during child-birth. I don’t know the whole story, as it was before my time at this school, and there are just a handful of faculty and staff remaining who knew her. But every time I pass the Peace Garden, and glance at the series of framed class pictures marking each of her years at Country School, I pause to think about two lives lost, and all the lives impacted, in turn, by that loss.

The Peace Garden is really just a large wooden box built into the wall with a deep ledge for sitting. The box is filled with soft, powdery sand that feels calming when it streams through your fingers. Over time, as her colleagues retired or left, interest in the upkeep of the garden waned. The fountain in the corner is filled with sand and no longer works. The plants that used to brighten the corner died from neglect. It became an even sadder place.

But the garden is changing. It is coming alive again. In recent years, the number of students with social/emotional learning challenges in our building has increased dramatically. Sometimes we know the root cause of their distress, but often we don’t. What we do know is that from time to time during their busy school lives they need a break. Whether they are troubled by thoughts about home or anxiety felt about all it means to be a student, a friend, or a community member, this is a place they can come to with a teacher for solace. Recently, someone has added small pebbles, a few glittery stones, and shiny glass beads to the sand. Several new potted plants have been added and are being cared for.

I’ve been spending a great deal of time lately at the Peace Garden with one of my students. We are not certain of the cause of their anxiety, but when they are struggling, we retreat to the Peace Garden, just the two of us. We dredge up the jewels and stones, sort them, count them, and then return them to their sandy home for the next visitor. When we are done, and my student is feeling calmer and ready, we return to our classroom, carrying the magic of the Peace Garden and a few stolen moments of the school day together back with us.

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This post is part of the annual month-long Slice of Life writing challenge organized by Two Writing Teachers. Join us! It’s my third year of slicing in the challenge and I’m looking forward to writing and learning along with all of you.

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5 thoughts on “The Magic of the Peace Garden #SOLC19

  1. I think every school needs a peace garden. What a wonderful way to honor a teacher and to serve the students who need it.

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  2. I agree with Margaret: every school needs a Peace Garden. I am so impressed with the advocacy and approach to students who have social/emotional challenges. How I would have loved for a teacher to take my anxious child to the Peace Garden to calm rather than yelling and sending him to the office!

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