Roots of Empathy returning to BTOC
The Roots of Empathy program will be returning to Blessed Teresa of Calcutta in Ms. Ozog’s Gr 2 Class and Mrs. Havers’ Gr. 6 class. Roots of Empathy is an award-winning, evidence based classroom program that has shown dramatic effect in reducing levels of aggression among school children while raising social/emotional competence and increasing empathy. At the heart of the program are Baby Olivia and her mom Ms. Gregoire (Jonah’s sister and mother) who will visit Ms. Ozog’s Grade 2 class, and in Mrs. Haver’s Grade 6 class will be Mrs. Radencich (BTOC teacher on maternity leave and her son baby Leo. These families will visit the classrooms nine times over the school year.
During these visits, Mrs. McCormack and Mr. Colella (the Roots instructors) will coach the students to observe the baby’s development and label the baby’s feelings. In this experimental learning, Olivia and Leo are the “teachers” and they will help the students identify and reflect on their own feelings and the feelings of others.
In total, the instructors will visit the classroom 27 times over the school year to deliver nine themes. Each theme consists of three visits, a pre-family visit, a family visit and a post-family visit. These themes include important topics such as crying, emotions, safety, communicating and sleep.
The focus of the Roots of Empathy program, in the long term, is to build the capacity of the next generation for responsible citizenship and responsive parenting. In the short term, the Roots of Empathy program focuses on raising levels of empathy resulting in more respectful and caring relationships and reducing levels of bullying and aggression.
From baby Olivia and Ms. Gregoire, Roots participants in Ms. Ozog’s Gr 2 class
"I first heard about the Roots of Empathy program through work and how its having such positive affects on students; so when I found out Angelo and I were expecting, I couldn’t wait to talk to Mr. Colella about baby O and I volunteering. I’m exited to see the connections the children make with Olivia and watch all of us learn from each other. The program and its volunteers are helping to foster compassion towards each other. I can’t wait to be a part of that! We see how Olivia's presence in our home is fostering love and empathy in Jonah and that is an experience worth sharing. It is an honour and a privilege to be a part of something that makes such a difference in the lives of children in our community. I also look forward to sharing how our visits went with Olivia’s big brother and dad; it will be a highlight around our dinner table. "
From baby Leo and Mrs. Radencich, Roots participants in Mrs. Havers’ Gr 6 class
Leo and I are very excited to start the Roots of Empathy program in Mrs. Havers' class! My first experience with the program was 4 years ago, as I was the classroom teacher hosting the program. I fell in love with program, as I was privileged to see the direct results on a daily basis with my students. I have hosted Roots almost every year since! So, it was only fitting when I found out I was expecting a baby, one of my first thoughts was "I'm signing this baby up for Roots!" I was lucky enough to experience the program from an 'aunt' perspective last year with my niece Abby. I am now so ecstatic to be able to experience the program from the 'Mom' side of things."