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The Kindergarten First Steps curriculum brings the children into community. I am so amazed and impressed with how quickly and easily they have learned the skill of deep listening and how much patience they have in Sharing Circles.  Through PassageWorks they have made profound connections to one another.

Visiting the kindergarten classrooms at Think College Now was a dynamic experience for me as a teacher and learner. The Kindergarten teachers used their PassageWorks time to build community, strengthen peer relationships, and give opportunities to children to be self-aware and express themselves authentically. The students were engaged in practices such as experiencing silence, using play to build connections and focus attention, and listening to and sharing with each other. I witnessed the students’ growing respect for individuality and interest in each other.

PassageWorks has helped me see the importance of emotions with learning.  If kids are emotionally in a stable place, they are better able to have access to their memory and learning.

PassageWorks has been a profound experience for both my students and myself. The work we have been engaging in through the curriculum has strengthened our connections to one another while adding a whole new depth to our community. The children seem to be gaining a deeper understanding of themselves, as well as recognizing the importance of strong peer connections and what it means to build trust in others and be a trustworthy person themselves. The children look forward to our Friday PassageWorks hour and are thoroughly disappointed if we miss a session together. I wish I could do PassageWorks with my students every day!

As the weeks progress, so do the activities in the curriculum.  We move into dyads and circles, and the topics become deeper.  They reflect the student’s greatest hopes and fears.  Students frequently note that we all share the same things.  Students talk to people that they many not usually talk to, and a level of trust has been established.

PassageWorks differs from other programs that I have attended in that it goes beyond the typical issues that we address in middle school. Along with fitting in, the changing bodies of teens, stress, communication, and friendship, is the added component of “the soul.”

One of my mother’s words of wisdom always was that our riches are in our relationships. This work certainly is about developing relationships. High school is a huge place and it’s a difficult place. It’s the best of times and the worst of times for a kid. It’s so important that every single child that comes through the doors at Poudre High School feels good about being here. They deserve to feel respected, they deserve to be safe, and they deserve to be given a good education. And they deserve to be well prepared to enter the real world after Poudre High School…whatever it is that they might encounter. I feel that PassageWorks is truly a key piece on how to get there.

The whole class, every single student, was really present. They sat in the circle really listening to each other. They are beginning to really care about each other, even with their differences. They are respecting each other. A group of twenty-five 10th graders, from such different social groups sitting together at 8:20 in the morning really being present and listening to each other. That is powerful.

We’re grateful for the fine materials you have put together. We used your “Journey Into High School,” curriculum guide wholly this year and found it versatile and valuable. Now that most of our faculty have gone through the PassageWorks Foundation Course, we are in a much better position to implement a sequential and programmatic approach to social and emotional learning.

Back in my old school I underwent a lot of teasing. I was picked on a lot, and it just totally crushed my self-esteem and my ability to make friends. And it also affected my learning ability because I had just gotten so frightened and worried and tired that I just shut down. But when I came here and got into the PassageWorks class, it really boosted me up a lot. And I feel happy and more energetic, and I’m able to complete more of my schoolwork.

We live in a world now where we can’t just rely on the fact that we’re the mighty U.S. anymore. There are people all over the world who are going to challenge these students for jobs, and it’s a lot different then it was 10 or 15 years ago. Students need to look internally at themselves and become critical thinkers and problem solvers and communicators and be able to work with people who are different than them. I think that’s what this PassageWorks curriculum gives them.

As weeks passed, I started to trust people for the first time in years. I was comfortable with them and I looked forward to seeing them in school every day.  Remember all those times I said I hated everyone at my high school and that none of them were worth my time? Well, suddenly, I didn’t hate anyone anymore. That’s one of the things I learned has impacted me the most — that we are all the same. We all have fears and pains and some good sides and some bad sides. I judged people so easily before; I felt hate so easily. Senior Passages showed me a whole new way to look at people. I discovered the beauty of an open mind.

One thing that really surprised me about PassageWorks was how close I got to the people in my class. My freshman and sophomore year, my father was in Iraq and it was a really hard time for me, because it was just me and my mom and my three younger siblings at home. PassageWorks changed the way I thought about that role because it made me realize that the hardships that were happening in my life were definitely happening to other people in high school. And I understood that there are so many other people in school that can relate to you and can relate to the problems that you have. So you should never feel alone and you should always know that you can overcome the hardships in your life — you can overcome the adversity and you can be who you want to be and you can be a happy person.

Immigrants have always brought our country huge gifts—knowledge, experience, cultural diversity. PassageWorks helps students to feel welcomed and honored here… students are not talked down to or seen as an intruder. In schools that aren’t adequately dealing with the needs of Newcomer students, a lot of students are dropping out and feeling a great sense of despair.

In the PassageWorks classes, students are able to let down their academic guard and assume their authentic personalities. With Transitions Programs in place, students are more likely to embrace learning and language acquisition for themselves.

Newcomer students particularly appreciate the use of symbols, artistic expression and oral communication in these (PWI) lessons to balance the challenge of writing and reading that is essential in other classes. Students report that it is a relief to talk about the transition issues and to be in a classroom where they can talk about how their families celebrate traditions and honor heritage.

I’ve read that the seeds of certain wildflowers in the Arizona desert can remain dormant for up to 20 years or more, waiting in silence for the perfect growing conditions to open them up to sun and rain and light. This is how it was for me to teach Newcomers.  Watching kids who have experienced so much heartache and loss finally find a place where they could begin to open, I felt like a lucky traveler witnessing some rare site. Passageways made possible for them this moment of blooming.

They asked us questions that I had never asked myself and I got to know myself better and I am more ready for what is it to come.

I want you to know how much each hour of PassageWorks meant to me this whole year.  I could talk about such important things that I could not talk about anywhere else.

PassageWorks is a 501(c)(3) under federal tax guidelines. Tax ID: 48-1278766