Challenging Students to Find Gratitude in Difficult Times

  • Middle School
Challenging Students to Find Gratitude in Difficult Times

During what invariably has been a time when many have struggled, Rebecca Jardin, Middle School Art teacher at SSIS, wanted to encourage our students to stop and reflect on the things they have to be grateful for.

Inspired by a Twitter post, Ms. Jardin was led to the powerful message, and style, of photographer Gregg Segal’s photo series “Daily Bread,” a portrait series depicting children surrounded by their food, aimed to shed light on eating habits around the world.

And with this as a catalyst, Mrs. Jardin set to work. 

Originally, the exercise was only intended to serve as a required art challenge for art students in grades 6 - 8. However, Mrs. Jardin decided to extend the challenge to teachers and parents, to also prompt adults in our community to think about gratitude with the question “What is important to you during social distancing and virtual school?”. Their answer was to be depicted through a self-portrait where they surrounded themselves with these things. 

Among students, a consistent theme emerged about spending quality time with family and extended connections. Many had started new hobbies and even added new furry friends to their families. Mrs. Jardin says the exercise also drew her attention to daily home routines and what she found meaningful. 

Some participants recognized another side of being homebound for so long - just how much we all rely on technology. But, in reflecting, many reached an important conclusion and spoke of "changing some habits" to encourage screen-free time and more exercise. 

It is clear that by participating in this assignment, students, teachers, and parents, each had the opportunity to stop and reflect. Their answers share a powerful message about mindset, comforts, and gratitude. 


"We have so much to be thankful for, from good health, food, clean water, to family and pets. In the future, when we look back on these photos, there will always be a wonderful message about us "being in it together" and what we valued in 2020." 

Thank you, Mrs. Jardin. What a powerful reminder to us all. 

Author: Tanya Olander
Communications Officer


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