"I wish I had learned those skills when I was in middle school!" is often the response when others hear of Ascension Episcopal School's new class, THRIVE: Building Confidence in any Setting. Lessons on navigating awkward situations, handling disagreements respectfully, making great first impressions, and communicating with body language teach 5th graders how their actions are a language of love and compassion.Integrated as part of the 5th-grade curriculum, each week students respectfully learn different etiquette, hospitality, and social skills and then practice with their peers and faculty members. "I think the best part of THRIVE is our Friday practices. That's where the students get to "workout" the etiquette rule with their personality. Meaning, they learn the rule, but they still have to make it fit within their framework and personality," says THRIVE teacher and Ascension faculty member, Lynley Jones. How does an educator keep forty 5th graders engaged and interested in these broad topics? With honesty and engaging lessons. "Most students probably thought etiquette and THRIVE would be boring, but the first time I threw out ‘boogers, bad breath, and body odor’ in a sentence, I could see them beginning to see value in the class. It's the awkward moments that make life hard for middle schoolers. THRIVE gives them the tools they need to navigate awkward and uncomfortable situations - anywhere, any time - and that builds confidence that is so desperately needed at that age," says Lynley Jones.THRIVE students are extending their learning and applying the skills to their daily lives, andAscension students, parents, and teachers are taking notice of the class's early impacts:
●"My son loves telling me all about the etiquette class skills he is learning. He evenopened my car door yesterday." 5th-grade mother
●"Friday car line duty is so much fun now! When greeting THRIVE students as they exittheir cars, I'm noticing their polite responses, correct posture, and bright eyes." 5th-gradeteacher
●"Using my etiquette skills, I was talking to a Target employee online, and she gave me a100% discount for an item that I wanted to buy. She said she did that because I wassuch a great customer. Yet, I turned down her offer. It was too kind of her. I really appreciate THRIVE. Success comes with etiquette." 5th-grade studentWhile THRIVE is in its first year at Ascension Episcopal School, this character-building class's influence will be impactful for years to come. Rising 5th-graders are already excited about learning confidence and compassion through etiquette in Mrs. Jones’ class next year.