Edwardsburg students sing carols at medical facility

EDWARDSBURG — Between 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. last Wednesday, six first grade classes from Edwardsburg Primary School visited the Cass County Medical Care Facility to sing Christmas carols, make cards and share cookies with patients. The field trip was a long time coming, according to first grade teacher Susanna Anderstrom, and first for what she hopes will become a tradition in Edwardsburg.

The first graders were given packets of lyrics of favorite Christmas carols, and had worked on them in their classrooms prior to the trip. The teachers and patients also sang along with the carols. While at the CCMCF, the students also made cards for the patients, and socialized with them over shared cookies.

“It was a great learning experience that met common core standards,” Anderstrom said about the trip.

She believes it is an imperative for students to learn about giving back to their community with their time and gifts, but she also believes using class time to instill those values into students is a worthwhile use of their educational experience.

“Even children have ways to give back. It doesn’t have to cost money to give people gifts. We’re teaching kids they don’t have to spend money, but it’s about the time spent with others,” Anderstrom said.

As an educator, Anderstrom sees the best and worst of how her students are using technology. She sees how social media and technology simultaneously create greater connectivity, but less social interaction; more thorough tools for education, and also barriers for learning important life lessons.

“I think this generation we’re raising is now at an advantage and a disadvantage with technology,” she said. “Schools can’t provide everything, but the bit we can, we want to.”

Anderstrom and her fellow educators believe there is still an opportunity to teach students about love, kindness to neighbors and community service, even at a young age.

“It’s the importance of community service — doing something and performing for someone else, and teaching the whole big picture of loving others. Other people matter, and there’s always a way to be kind and make people smile.”

Anderstrom also believes there is something special about singing that is healing for patients, and unifying for a community. When she was young, she would go to medical facilities with her grandparents and siblings. She recalled her grandmother playing piano while she and her sister sang songs to patients, something she saw as healing and restorative for people who were suffering, or lonely.

The topper for the field trip, however, was the behavior of the first graders.

“Many adults there commented on how well behaved (the students) were. The principal was impressed by that,” Anderstrom said.

For Anderstrom, seeing the good behavior of her students only reinforced that such trips and experiences are not only good for the students, but are good for the school district and community as a whole. Teachers have the satisfaction of seeing their classroom standards in action, and community members can see students investing in their hometown.

“It starts with giving kids experiences,” she said.

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