For over 25 years, February brings the return of the Pinewood Post Office at Pinewood Elementary School in Jenison. What began as a way for kindergarten through sixth-grade students to practice their handwriting has turned into a tradition the entire school looks forward to every year.

The Pinewood Post Office brings the entire school together and supports essential academic skills along with social and emotional skills. Through the Post Office, students learn about letter writing, how the mail works, and the importance of connecting and taking time to reach out to other individuals in the school community.

Students in upper grades are pen pals with younger students, and second-graders also have the honor of wearing the blue mail delivery satchels to pick up, stamp, sort and then deliver mail to classrooms. But only if letters are addressed correctly!

Behavior Specialist at Pinewood Elementary, Yvette Smith, says, “When our students are all connecting and engaging with each other they feel safe and cared for and have a better school experience.”

Learning and growing writing skills through this fun project involving peers and staff members has had a positive impact on students who might not otherwise enjoy writing assignments.  Students are eager to make their letters personal and often ask to write during their free-choice time of the school day. Suddenly, the essential academic skill of writing is fun!

Second-grade teacher Amander Roper says one student who is a reluctant writer has blossomed thanks to the Pinewood Post Office.

“He recently told me, ‘I am the letter-writing king! I have written so many letters I can’t even count them!’, and he’s right,” Amanda says. “He has been using every free moment to write to others, which is amazing!”

Amanda adds parents are also invited to write notes to their children. You should see their faces light up when they get a letter from their mom, dad, or relative. It is quite the positive experience.”

Yvette says beyond the academic skills learned through the Pinewood Post Office, it also strengthens the sense of family Pinewood intentionally builds between staff, students, and community.

“It’s heartwarming to watch a child’s face light up when they receive a letter,” Yvette says. “The kindness and  thoughtfulness of children eagerly writing to friends and peers is felt in every classroom.”

Second-grade student Ava says she loves keeping in touch with her friends through the Pinewood Post Office returns. “If it's someone that you don't see a lot, you can write a note to them and they can respond back."

“Shared events like the Pinewood Post Office help students connect and engage with each other,” Amanda says. “It really brings our school community together to create a special school environment
for all.”

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