What if Vincent van Gogh had given up and never painted The Starry Night or Vase with Fifteen Sunflowers? Vincent van Gogh was a post-impressionist painter who despite being poor and virtually unknown throughout his life, completed over 2,100 works of art. Van Gogh is now viewed as one of the most influential artists having helped lay the foundation of modern art.
We can learn a lot from Vincent van Gogh’s determination and resilience. He would not give up painting, even when art critics despised his work and he could barely afford to feed himself, not to mention buy art supplies. When you think about yourself with a growth mindset, as famous painter Vincent van Gogh did, you believe that your skills, abilities, talents and habits are growing and changing. Effort is essential. Who knows how far you will go if you try? From classroom activities to after school events we see Soule School students believing in themselves and facing new challenges with an, “I can do this if I try” mentality. Our skilled staff sets high standards for students but then helps them understand that they can develop their talents and abilities through hard work, using strategies and with help from their teacher and peers.
Our Girls on the Run program is a perfect example of the “I can do this” mindset for girls in grades three through five. During a ten-week period, staff members teach valuable lessons on making new friends, building self-confidence, and vigorously train students to participate in a 5K Girls on the Run event at the conclusion of the sessions. Our physical education teacher, Matthew Persell, started a similar program for our boy students. This group named themselves, Fast and Furious, and also showed a spirited determination to succeed at any new challenge presented to them.
In an effort to promote a healthy lifestyle and educate students on caring for our environment, Soule School set a goal a few years back to build an outdoor classroom. As part of that project, a greenhouse was installed next to our outdoor classroom. The greenhouse, however, lacked the necessary staging and supplies to be productive. With an optimistic mindset and loads of persistence, TJ Scanlon, a Salem High School student, chose the building of work areas and shelving in Soule’s greenhouse as his Eagle Scout project. Thanks to TJ’s determination and hard work, we now have a fully equipped and functioning greenhouse along with several fenced in gardening beds.
Students in fourth and fifth grades were given a unique opportunity to demonstrate their persistence and optimism when the auditions for Soule School’s second musical production were announced. Over twenty-five students danced, sang and acted their way into our production of Pirates, the Musical. Over the course of seven weeks, each individual student became part of a team that shared a common vision. Students stayed after school two days a week and gave up their lunch recess time to learn the many lines, songs and dance numbers that made up the show. Their hard work and dedication to the process of performing in a theatrical production paid off when their performance earned them a standing ovation.
Each and every day students working in every content area and in extracurricular activities bring optimism, resilience and flexibility to their learning. Staff members promote a growth mindset by encouraging students to keep trying and reassuring them that when they make mistakes or get stuck they possess the inner power to overcome and try again. Despite the many hardships Vincent van Gogh endured, he worked hard and persisted in his vision of creating beautiful works of art. Van Gogh demonstrated for us that the seemingly impossible is possible if we keep trying. The Soule School Sharks do this, too!