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We’d like to share with you this great letter we received along with the parents of the students of Oak Park Unified School District. It beautifully explains the intention and journey of Oak Park USD to create better learning environments that support their goals, values and their mission of ‘Educating Compassionate and Creative Global Citizens’. Natural Pod is incredibly proud to have partnered with Oak Park, and to have successfully helped them in bringing their vision to life.

The photos below were taken by an advanced photography student, Jason Nguyen, at Oak Park High School – thanks for sharing them with us!

‘ParentSquare’ letter:

‘Since the passage of Measure S in 2016, OPUSD has focused its efforts on replacing and updating classroom furniture that matches the progressive pedagogical practices of our teachers. For centuries, classrooms had a similar structure; rows of seats that ensure students faced the teacher, the dispenser of knowledge. In today’s classrooms, learning is collaborative, social, creative, and student-centered. Thus, the furniture we place in classrooms must support the new attributes of teaching and learning.

Oak Park schools maintain a Climate of Care that extends to many aspects of the school experience. First and foremost, students must feel cared for and connected to their school. Our schools must be clean and free of pesticides, herbicides, and rodenticides. Further, in order to inspire students, our classrooms must be comfortable, inviting, and replete with natural materials. Creating a healthy and caring classroom involves addressing issues as part of an ecosystem. When done well, the classroom encourages environmental literacy, eco-friendly design, and student engagement. It is clear to us that the furniture we place in the classroom is an essential part of our Climate of Care.

Prior to the start of this school year, OPUSD partnered with Natural Pod, a company whose mission is to create learning environments that encourage learning, play, and collaboration. Natural Pod’s furniture is made with Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified materials grown in responsibly and carefully managed forests in Canada. The furniture is designed and built to last a lifetime. Because cost must always be a factor, we received pricing on this furniture that is comparable to other standard classroom furniture made of metal and plastic. Natural Pod classrooms help create a warm and inviting for our students in which to grow and learn.’

The Oak Park USD Mission statement – ‘Educating Compassionate and Creative Global Citizens‘ is very inspiring in itself, though it becomes deeply meaningful when you read the beautifully expanded upon version:

COMPASSION: When we talk about compassion, we understand the literal meaning of the word, which is co-suffering. Compassionate people understand the plight and difficulties of others and work to alleviate suffering wherever it exists. We can demonstrate and practice compassion to others, to animals, to the environment. Children learn about compassion by observing adults practice it and by what they hear adults say. Schools can teach students about compassion in many ways, through literature, history, discussion, and by providing opportunities to do good.

CREATIVITY: Creativity is the spark that makes life interesting. We all possess it and it is important that a school system help students discover it within themselves and nurture it. Creative people are interesting, solve problems, have open minds, and see the world in new ways. Creativity is probably the most important ’21st-century skill.’

CITIZENS: We are citizens of our locality, of our state, and of our nation. We are also citizens of the world. When we look at the Earth from space we do not see borders and boundaries. We are part of a web of people who share this place. Being a good global citizen means participating in our own democracy, having a sense of social responsibility for the people around us, of our nation, and of the world, and caring for the environment we all share and will pass on to our posterity.

Many thanks to Oak Park Unified School District

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