Noddin Elementary School

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Project Cornerstone

Noddin was selected as the 2010-11 recipient for the most Caring School Climate Award! There is only one elementary, middle and high school selected each year.  Noddin was very excited to receive this recognition and the students, parents and staff work very hard and with a sense of purpose to ensure that everyone is treated with respect and care. 

Caring Elementary School Climate Award Video
Noddin Elementary School—Union School District

This is the Santa Clara County Project Cornerstone Award Application for the 2010-11 Caring School Community Award that lead to our selection:

From the outside, Noddin Elementary seems like a typical California school.  But if you spend any time at our school, you will be struck by the caring climate and energy it contains.  Noddin has at least a dozen vibrant programs for children. There are programs that encourage a healthy lifestyle such as Fit for Learning, Running Club, Olympic Day and a Wellness program.  This year we have added a vegetable of the month that the whole school enjoys. We have programs that share the wonders of Art with the children, such as Art Vista, Clay Program, Band, and Choir.  Our children with allergies feel safe with our Peanut Free lunch tables and allergy-safe classrooms while others learn to understand that everyone is different and tolerance is golden.  Programs such as Be A Buddy (ABC), Expect Respect and PeaceBuilders encourage our children to love themselves and others. At Noddin, we have programs that teach our kids how to care for themselves, others, our community and our world.  Our teachers, our school staff and our volunteer parents model these behaviors daily.

Noddin was one of the pilot schools for ABC.  We are now in our seventh year of Asset Building Champions -- affectionately known as “Be A Buddy” at our school.  This program has empowered our students to stand up, speak up and feel safe not only in our school, but at home and in our community.  Students understand how to protect themselves from bullying.  They recognize when to seek help and how not to feel threatened.  They know to do the right thing by giving support to their friends when needed.  Our diverse children appreciate that each of us is different in our own way, yet we all must be treated equally. ABC was complimented with Expect Respect and PeaceBuilders.  Over the years, these three programs have created a more caring school.  Our children show respect and kindness to one another, and everything we do at Noddin aims to allow each student to feel valued.

After several years of these programs, Noddin has grown up. Instead of only looking in, we began to look out.  Four years ago, Noddin piloted a Go Green program with the help of the City of San Jose.  It started in 2007 with Phase 1: Recycling. Phase 2 started in 2008 with a No Waste Lunch program. Phase 3, Vermicomposting (Worm composting) was implemented in 2009.  It takes approximately 4-8 parent volunteers to run our Go Green Programs, but it has taken the entire community to make it a success! These three programs reinforce lessons about being good stewards of the planet. The families of our children learn too when students bring home new habits.  Noddin has learned to care for our planet.

Last year, the Noddin community brought ABC to our middle school, Union Middle School (UMS).  Parent volunteers assist in a newly activated program called UMS Power.  This asset-building program incorporates many Project Cornerstone values to create a safe and empowering environment for middle school students.  Since many students remember the key concepts from the stories they heard in elementary school, our Noddin parent volunteers remind them of those messages and how to carry on the positive values that Project Cornerstone provides.  Noddin’s caring environment is growing beyond our school to our broader community.

And finally, this past year Noddin began a Plant-A-Row for the Hungry program.  With help from a grant from the City of San Jose, our Garden Club Parent Volunteers helped build raised planting beds. Throughout the summer, approximately 30 parents and their kids came to Noddin and tended to eleven planting beds.  When the school year began, the children harvested the vegetables.  All of the vegetables were donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank.  Noddin donated 1001 pounds of food!  This program affected more than just the 30 families that initially worked on the garden.  For example, one of our kindergarten teachers taught both caring and music by having the kinders stop by the garden on their way to music class and sing to the plants to encourage them to grow.  Noddin has learned to care for our community and our earth.

Our children are encouraged to participate in both of these programs.  They are rewarded for working as teams and picking up trash at lunch.  They are Eco-Champions!  And our Plant-A-Row program is a Garden Club during the school year.  With parent volunteers, approximately 50 children meet at the planting beds at lunch and learn about the Farm to Fork process while tending our winter plants.  

Children from our school frequently tell their parents “I’m really glad I’m at Noddin because it’s a no-bullies-allowed school”.  That concept has grown and is woven into everything we do here at Noddin.  We are Upstanders to the environment by recycling.  We are Upstanders to our community by helping to feed the hungry.  We are Upstanders every single day by everything we do.