“The Let Grow Project,” a Growth-Potential Initiative at SMS, Featured in Documentary

  • In the 2018-19 school year, when Mrs. Maurici had first introduced her then Seventh-graders to a program known as “The Let Grow Project” which challenges Seventh graders to seek opportunities that create personal growth, she had never anticipated the amazing things that would happen as a result of it. 

    To accomplish the goals of “The Let Grow Project," Mrs. Maurici's Seventh-graders were provided with an extensive list, containing over 150 ‘age-appropriate, independence initiatives’ and instructed to select five to complete each quarter, and after, to reflect on their experiences.” 

    A few of the examples of these "initiatives" were "Going into a store by themselves to purchase items," "Learn how to pay a tip at a restaurant and going to get a meal with friends," "Approach a teacher on their own,""Call for takeout," and "Cook a meal or dessert for the family."  One student even chose to try taking the LIRR alone.  

    This program not only fosters independence and responsibility but students also have the opportunity to practice problem-solving and critical thinking skills which are essential for healthy development in a time where technology does a lot of these skills for them.

    For many students, these choices took them out of their comfort zone. They had to make a genuine effort to achieve a level of confidence with their choices, which in turn fostered independence and lowered anxiety, stress and depression.  These students upon completing the project received such a positive impact from their activities that many of them are continuing the challenge themselves now as Eighth graders.

    “This year,”  Mrs. Maurici continued, “a group of Eighth-graders has been selected as ‘Grow Graduates’ for their Seventh- grade peers. They are supporting and encouraging the current Seventh-graders to select initiatives that they would like to try and also to assist them in carrying out these challenges.”

    While all the students have seen tremendous personal “growth” within the past year, that was just the beginning for Mrs. Maurici’s “The Let Grow Project” at Sayville Middle School.

    As a result of the success with the program in the 2018-19 school year, Mrs. Maurici’s program has been recognized as a “Model Program” by the “Let Grow Foundation” and she and the students were invited to be part of a video recording to help other districts to model their work.

    Mrs. Maurici and her “Grow Grad Group” are being featured in a documentary (to be released in 2020) and were interviewed by New York Times Best-Selling author Johann Hari for his upcoming book and editor Kerstin Kullman of Europe’s Der Spiegal magazine.  

    Although after school and weekends have been very busy filming and participating in interviews, Mrs. Maurici and her “Grads” are so excited and feel that it has all been so worth it!  The program is continuing in Seventh grade again this year and Mrs. Maurici is looking forward to continued growth in all involved. 

    To celebrate the graduates hard-work, sacrifice and dedication to this program, Mrs. Maurici gave each student a tree of their own to plant which signifies where they were at the start of the program and how they have grown and will continue to grow throughout their lives.  Each student also received a framed copy of “Be Like a Tree.”

    “I am so proud of my students,” Mrs. Maurici enthused, “Both former and current for coming out of their comfort zones and trying new things to help them mature, grow and become independent!”

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