by Meghan Keanelly
The image of a school cafeteria often conjures up mental pictures of kids yelling across long plastic tables, shoving food in their mouths quickly in order to get out and go to the all-important recess.
The lunch room in P.S. 69x (http://www.ps69bronx.org/) is going to be the complete opposite on December 8, 2011 when the entire graduating class will be showcasing their elegant manners in a dining class as a part of the school’s ongoing initiative to improve the social skills of their students.
P.S. 69x is a Title I school and one of the top fifty elementary public schools according to the 2010 New York City Progress Report.
This school has placed a heavy premium on ‘character education,’ realizing that student behavior outside of the classroom is as much of a reflection on their school as their test scores. In keeping with that theme, their school motto is ‘Educating Minds and Hearts’ showing that they think about their students as whole individuals and not just numbers. As a result, all of the school’s fourth and fifth grade students take part in what is called ‘social skills’ courses, teaching them how to excel in conflict mediation and anti-bullying techniques.
On December 8th, the students will add proper dining etiquette to their valuable list of life skills. Etiquette expert Lyudmila Bloch, founder of www.EtiquetteOutreach.com who has been training business professionals and high-powered executives in the world of business manners for over a decade, will be personally helping the students improve their dining-etiquette skills as a part of the celebratory showcase.
“Nobody is born with an etiquette gene,” Ms. Bloch said. “We don’t know about etiquette or dining skills until we learn.”
The students will learn what to do while at the dining table, basic guidelines for an ideal host or hostess, and how to properly and effectively use dining utensils.
That said, the idea of having effective etiquette skills means more than just the way to hold a fork or knife. Etiquette emotes a level of respect towards the people around us, making it a life lesson that truly helps the individual exude confidence and dignity to others.
Because of the widespread social ripple effects that good manners have on an individual’s sense of being, P.S. 69x has made the sage move of incorporating social skills lessons into their daily curriculum. As a result, the school reports marked improvements in academic achievement and social behavior, leading it to be considered one of the top fifty elementary public schools according to the 2010 New York City Progress Report.
These positive outcomes do not surprise school officials, including the school’s principal Sheila Durant, who says she has seen the tangible ways in which etiquette training can help individuals in their social lives as well as their careers.
‘Teaching children these fundamental skills will give tremendous confidence, self-esteem and the tools to navigate this complex social world!” said Ms Durant.
For more information about this event, please contact Ms.Bloch at (212) 977-6804.