“The Amazing Race” is one of the most successful entries in the genre of television “reality” programs. It’s a competition during which each team undertakes a series of challenges as it progresses to successive locations.
On Thursday, dozens of John Glenn Middle School staff members crisscrossed the town’s 13 square miles in a team-building version of “The Amazing Race” – an experience that one organizer laughingly called “controlled mayhem.”
About 100 staff members participated, divided into 17 teams.
“JGMS staff received five clues which led them all around town. The clues led them to such destinations as Chip-In Farm, the VA Hospital, Huckins Farm, Springs Brook Park, Davis and Lane schools, and The Edge,” explained Jennifer Naylor, JGMS skills center teacher.
JFMS Principal Jon Hartunian said, “It was a great day to learn about each other and our students as we looked forward to the new year.”
The exercise was not only a way to build staff camaraderie, Naylor explained, but also to “familiarize themselves with the diverse community of Bedford.”
“They also needed to thank a first responder and take a picture with them, were ‘detoured’ to complete a physical or mental challenge, and tasked with navigating ‘speed bumps’ along the way,” said Kim Limoli of the skills center teaching staff.
The “speed bumps” took the participants to sites connected to the five attributes that provide a behavioral framework for the JGMS community, represented by the acronym HEART: Honor, Empathy, Acceptance, Responsibility, and Tenacity. The initiative aims for the JGMS community to show HEART every day, Hanson explained. Participants’ shirt colors were associated with each value of HEART, Limoli added.
“At these locations were rocks with the corresponding letter for each tenet,” Limoli said.
Honor rocks were at the Veterans Hospital, empathy rocks were found at Town Center, where the town social workers are based. Acceptance rocks were discovered outside First Parish on the Common, responsibility rocks were at the Carlisle Road recycling center, and tenacity rocks were found in the office of the schools’ METCO coordinator.
Hanson noted that the challenges included a number of trivia questions involving METCO.
Staff also sent TikTok videos introducing each other – with extra points if they were musical.
“The videos,” Limoli said, “were hilarious.”
“The race was created by me two years ago as a voluntary activity at the end of the year. After so much stress, I thought we needed some fun,” Limoli said. “JGMS’s Ruler Team, which is in charge of trainings around student and staff social-emotional learning, asked to use it as a team building activity.”
Thanks to the Ruler Team and Hartunian, the idea was successfully expanded, she said. “Over our two opening days, the Ruler Team has led some great classroom building activities, as well. The overall focus has been on starting the year building quality staff and student communities.”
Naylor said Kim Comeiro, teacher in instructional technology and library media, also was “critical in making this amazing day happen.”
Hartunian noted that the day began with the staff writing a schoolwide charter. He thanked Assistant Principal Nick Bacigalupi, Andrea Edmonds, special education program administrator, and Comeiro for “their thoughtful planning and facilitation of the team charter exercise.”