BY HEATHER WILLIAMS, SENIOR PROGRAM DIRECTOR - ATLANTA
“Okay, this year we’re going to start something new,” I was told at staff training. I was a returning WINGSLeader, and thought that I knew exactly what to expect starting another year with WINGS. That is, until I heard the new WINGS Creed recited to me.
The first few times I heard it I was flooded with a number of thoughts “OK, this is NEW”…“and it’s also really long.” I thought to myself, “will my kindergarteners ever learn this... heck, how am I supposed to learn this?” Then I hear an update: “you guys are also going to learn hand motions to go along with the Creed, and you’ll come in tomorrow and recite it.”
I remember going home that first night and trying to focus on memorizing the stanzas. “Ok, Heather, you can do this,” I told myself. I knew if I didn’t believe I could learn this I could never expect my kids to believe they could.
All that night I worked on memorizing it… “I soar with WINGS, let me tell you why. I learn lots of things…” No! It’s supposed to be skills, not things!
The next day at training I was nervous anticipating my turn to stand in front of the group and recite the Creed. I admit that I mixed up words a few times, but the whole way through my coworkers clapped and supported me, calming my nerves.
What amazed me in the weeks that followed was that the same formula played out as we introduced the Creed to our kids as well. At first the task was daunting, but the more they watched us and listened to us recite the Creed, and the more they rallied around their classmates who worked to commit it to memory, I watched as one by one each kid succeeded. It didn’t take long before all the kids in my nest were reciting in unison and happily matching the hand motions to the stanzas just like we’d learned in training.
Now I’m a Program Director and I have 12 WINGSLeaders and more than 120 WINGS kids at my school. At our most recent staff training and over the course of our first few weeks of WINGS, I watched this same situation play out with both new and returning WINGS staff and kids. I continue to be proud of the way we come together at WINGS to tackle challenges as a group. I’m proud to see our staff and kids committing such great socially and emotionally-smart stanzas to memory. I’m proud to be a part of such a rewarding program.
Looking at our youngest of WINGS kids reciting the Creed (like these youngsters), I have to smile thinking back to the very first time I heard the Creed and thought it couldn’t be done. But that’s SEL for you—when it clicks, it clicks!
You can read more about our Creed here, and snag our tips for memorizing!