Drawings by students of things they are grateful for

Gratitude and Quaker Values

This month, we are starting to reflect on Gratitude as a whole school. The image I have attached is of squares from a whole-school gratitude quilt that students are working on. As you can see this group of kids are grateful for a range of things: pollinators; music; a roof over their heads; medicine, even their pooping dog.

Why reflect on Gratitude? To be grateful is to recognize the importance of a thing, person, or experience that is outside of ourselves. Gratitude helps us de-center ourselves and look beyond our immediate desires.

Gratitude is not, strictly speaking, one of the commonly cited Quaker values. But, when we engage in gratitude, we engage more deeply with the Quaker values we do hold. When we are grateful for the actions or kindnesses of others around us, we are more connected to Community, and more invested in it. When we are grateful for the natural world, we notice and connect to it, and can be more interested its Stewardship. When we stop to be grateful for the roof over our heads, we have awareness and empathy for those without this blessing in their lives and can re-commit ourselves to Service.

Studies show that people who regularly express gratitude are happier in their day to day life. Perhaps they are also better able to act to protect, preserve and value what we all have.

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Karen Carney

is the head of school. Karen’s career demonstrates a rich and diverse set of skills: project oversight, curriculum development, educator training and mentoring, and classroom instruction. Prior to coming to Chicago Friends School, she worked as a senior specialist in science curriculum for American Institutes for Research. Before this, she oversaw educational programming at the Adler Planetarium, first as its director of education and then as associate vice president for visitor experience and learning. She has also worked in instruction and teacher development at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Learning Sciences Research Institute and has authored more than 20 scholarly papers, book chapters, and conference presentations.

Karen is an active, dedicated Friend (Quaker) and has held various leadership positions at the Evanston Friends Meeting. She enjoys baking, cooking, and painting and is a member of the Playmation improv comedy team.