New York State Education Department I State Office of Religious and Independent Schools I Catapult Learning

Culture of Gratitude

Thanksgiving is a time when we pause to reflect. We are thankful for the wonderful schools who are continually adapting to the changing educational landscape. We are thankful for the outstanding leaders who guide and support educators. We are thankful for the exceptional educators who, no matter what, are there to grow and challenge and educator our students each and every day.

How can schools and families practice gratitude in meaningful ways so that our kids learn what it means to be thankful?

Express your appreciation for each other by….

  • Keep a gratitude journal: Jot down all your positive thoughts. Take 5 minutes every night to think about one thing you are thankful for and write it in your gratitude journal. At the end of the week you’ll realize that the positives outweigh any negatives.
  • Saying ‘Thank you’: Sometimes we forget to be thankful for the people that are the closest to us. We assume they already know how much we appreciate them. Tell you friends, dad, mom or siblings how thankful you are for them to show them your gratitude.
  • Acknowledge the small stuff: Practicing mindfulness helps us to be present and pay attention to our environment. Often it is easy to go through the day distracted, out of sync with our environment, and the people around us. Be intentional about noticing the beautiful flowers, bright blue sky, the helpful person at the store,…. Your appreciation for the little things around you will rub off on your students.
  • Make a class gratitude jar: Find a container and let your students decorate it. Cut out some pieces of scratch paper and put them in a convenient place around your classroom or home so that others can write down things they feel grateful for and place the paper in the jar. If students are emergent writers, invite them to draw a picture and perhaps even label the picture! Open the jar once a week or once a month throughout the year and celebrate each contribution.
  • Make it part of your routine: Take a few minutes at the end of each day to show appreciation for the little things in your life for which you are thankful. It is important for parents to model gratitude for meaningful things like relationships, kindness, and the natural beauty in your environment.

Gratitude Ideas for Teachers and Families shared by Elizabeth Hallissy, Parent Liaison Garden City Catholic Schools



With ~700 educators and school leaders from across NYS participating in RISE 2021, the 37th Annual Conference for Religious and independent Leaders offered two inspiring days of professional conversation. With renowned keynotes and over 37 engaging sessions, RISE 2021 had something for everyone! Over 10 NYS Education Departments had virtual office hours where educators stopped by to ask questions about Grs. 3-8 Assessments, HS Regents Exams, to check in with the Curriculum Associates on the implementation of the Next Generation Learning Standards, or find out who to contact for transportation questions, fingerprinting questions, or SEL updates and more. The Long Island PDRC

ran virtual TIME TO CONSULT sessions where leaders from across Long Island learned how the Long Island PDRC can support their professional development. Sending gratitude to the Long Island Religious and Independent Schools who had members of their school communities participate in RISE 2021: Association of Christian Schools, Diocese of Rockville Centre, Lutheran Schools Association Schools, Seventh Day Adventist Schools, Islamic School Association Schools and Independent Schools. sessions where leaders from across Long Island learned how the Long Island PDRC can support their professional development.

Leadership Circle for Principals and School Leadership

Purposely designed to build a community of leaders who learn and problem-solve together, join the Fall Cohort of the Leadership Circle to discuss, share, and plan for an exceptional school year. Meeting twice a month, each virtual session will have a driving focus and will be facilitated by Mitch Center of Center Educational Consulting. 
Join us on Monday, November 22nd at 10:15-11:15am The focus of the session will be Prioritization.
Target audience: Principals, Asst. Principals, School Administrators and Leaders.

Strengthening Writing and Thinking Across the Curriculum

A Writing Community
Join a unique Writing PLC to further strengthen writing in your classroom. Hosted by Dr. John Collins of the Collins Writing Program, this series will be a blend of content and implementation Q&A. This cohort will meet virtually on the first Monday of the month.
Join us on Monday, December 6th at 3:30-4:30pm.  
Target Audience: Educators who have previously participated in Collins Writing Program Courses.


Leadership Corner

How do my leadership conversations impact the culture of my school?

By Mitch Center

The first few months of school are a whirlwind. Most leaders spend the months of July and August deep in planning, then teachers arrive with their needs and nerves, and finally students with all the wonderful energy of their youthfulness. If you are a leader, you find yourself in hundreds of conversations – with parents, custodians, district office personnel, teachers, kids, office staff, etc. Talk, talk, talk – Talking is quite simply an inescapable fact of the job!

But how can we improve the quality of our conversations? The answer is simple: listen to your mom! Remember when you were young, and you were told to “think before you speak?” Well, there’s a poster I’ve seen in some elementary school classrooms that advise kids to “T.H.I.N.K.” before they speak, and the advice is good for adults, too.

~Mitch Center provides leadership professional development and coaching for Catapult Learning and is a monthly contributor to our Leadership Corner Conversation.

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Before you speak, ask yourself:

T – Is it True?

H – Is it Helpful?

I – Is it Inspiring?

N – Is it Necessary?

K – Is it Kind?

As we move deeper into the school year and stresses continue to rise, think about how you can elevate the dialogue and culture in your building by modeling what you say, and how you choose to say it. And THINK, too, about how you might share this with the adults you work with, and the students that you serve!

Community Spotlight

Studies have shown that being thankful can help people feel more positive, relish good experiences, improve their health and build strong relationships with others. It’s no secret that our children demonstrate a more positive attitude when practicing thankfulness with their teachers. That’s why, we asked students to tell us why they are thankful for their school! Congratulations to all the wonderful writers at Saint Anne’s School, Garden City.

– Lia A, St. Anne’s Student

– Patricia O, St. Anne’s Student

Are you interested in spotlighting your school or sharing school news?

Would you like to submit a calendar item or an article for inclusion?

Coming Soon:
Growing Literacy in Grades K-3

Are you interested in developing a culture of coaching in your school? Do you have a teacher who might be interested in peer-to-peer coaching in your school? The Long Island PDRC proudly announces an exciting coaching opportunity for religious and independent school leaders and teachers. Starting January 2022, and in collaboration with the Upstate PDRC, we are launching a Literacy Coaching Program to support the development of literacy skills in K-5. The program will begin with a review of Best Practices in the Literacy Classroom and will continue with PD to support literacy coaching including peer-to-peer coaching and evidenced-based best practices in coaching as well as 1:1 coaching support. Leaders and Teachers are welcome to join this unique opportunity. More information will be available soon along with sessions dates and times.

NYSED Resources and More


Would you like to submit an article for inclusion or highlights from your school community? Do you have a comment or suggestion?