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Head of School Susanne Johnson shares information about educational, parenting, and child development issues.


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Buddy Bench Supports Barnesville’s Core Values

Educating the whole child has always been “The Barnesville Way.” Character education is critical to fulfilling our mission of providing a joyful and supportive learning environment for the development of excellence in each of us. We are fortunate that families embrace our core values -- kindness, service, perseverance, respect, initiative, courage, cooperation, responsibility, and honesty -- and reinforce them at home.

Last year, one of our student’s grandparents made a donation to our school that was as thoughtful as it was generous. The donation of a “Buddy Bench” for our playground was made in honor of a milestone birthday. They had seen a news story about a young boy who brought the idea of the Buddy Bench to the U.S. when he was faced with the prospect of starting at a new private school overseas. One of the schools he was looking at had a special bench on their playground to help kids make new friends. When he found out he wasn’t moving, he decided to bring that idea to his school to help kids who might feel lonely at recess.

Knowing that Barnesville is an inclusive community that works hard to help our students develop social skills and to foster a culture of joy, support, and excellence, grandparents of Emily (Class of 2019), approached me about installing a Buddy Bench at Barnesville.

The bright blue bench now sits in the middle of our recess area, visible from the soccer field, the main playground, and the big swing set. Students and faculty know that when someone is sitting on the Buddy Bench, they are signaling that they need a buddy. They might want to make new friends, play something different than their other friends are playing, or just need someone to reach out and say “hi” to include them in their game.

Since “kindness” is the character word we focus on in the month of September, I thought this was the perfect time to share with our broader community the concept of the Buddy Bench and how it is proving to be a wonderful tool to help us teach and practice kindness. As we have put it to use in this first month of school, I realize that it creates ongoing opportunities to reflect on and reinforce not just kindness, but all of our core values.

It takes kindness and initiative for someone to reach out to someone who is sitting on the bench. It requires courage, honesty, and perseverance for a student to separate themselves from their regular group at recess to signal that they’d really like to be doing something different than the group. It is important to respect when our friends like different things than we do. It takes the entire student body’s cooperation to take on the responsibility of making the concept of the Buddy Bench succeed. And, it was in service to our community that Emily's family made such a generous donation. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving.

Susanne Johnson, Head of School, The Barnesville School of Arts & Sciences


Ch. 4 Reports on Barnesville's Buddy Bench

After seeing our Head's Blog post, "Buddy Bench Supports Barnesville's Core Values," NBC Washington's Melissa Mollet visited Barnesville to learn more.

Posted by Jan Hyland on Sunday December, 11, 2016 at 03:07PM

1 Comment:

I noticed the Buddy Bench at Homecoming last week, and thought it was such a pretty shade of blue. Now that I know the back story of the bench, I see it has a beautiful reason for being on campus, in addition to being visually appealing. Thank you, Emily's family, for your thoughtful addition to our campus.

from Tamara Lyons on 09/27/16 at 09:03PM

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An independent private school in
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21830 Peach Tree Road
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p: 301.972.0341
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We offer a vigorous academic program for students as well as engaging, hands-on learning experiences.


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