DI program 'Grace. Etiquette. Matters' enjoys succesful first season
For their first season of operation, the creators of Grace. Etiquette. Manners. (GEM), a local program focused on different aspects of character development, Daniel Island residents Rindy Ryan and Allie Clay had two main outcomes they hoped to see—they wanted the kids to have fun and they wanted the parents to notice a difference in the kids’ behavior.
From the feedback they’ve received so far, stated Clay, they were able to achieve that and more.
“I’ve had a lot of parents say to me, ‘I can’t believe my child actually is looking forward to it and asking when the next one is because I had to drag them kicking and screaming to the first one,’” said Clay. “On the same note, as well, we’ve had several parents reach out and say that they took their kids out for dinner and the waiter was commenting on the child’s good manners or their kid set the breakfast table in the mornings.”
Over the course of six months, Ryan and Clay taught a total of 93 students in grades four through eight from 13 different area schools. All of their hard work as well as the students’ commitment to the curriculum culminated with a dinner and slide show presentation on Feb. 20. While parents were invited to the slide show presentation, The Daniel Island News got a behind the scenes look at how a class operates during the fourth grader’s final meeting.
For the fourth grade class, the curriculum covered first impressions in September; buffet etiquette in October; gifts and gratitude in November; tricky foods in December; friendships and other relationships in January; and concluded with dancing, party etiquette and a formal dinner in February, according to Ryan. The meetings, which were held at Laura Albert’s Island Park Room, each followed a lesson plan based on one of these subjects and five of the meetings featured meals for the students to practice. One change that students can look forward to next year, added Ryan, is a meal at every meeting.
After the slide show presentation, student Giselle Thacker explained that her favorite subject was learning about buffet etiquette. She also enjoyed the food.
“It was really fun,” said Thacker. “I really want to do it again. My favorite course was the buffet course because it was a lot of fun and was actually funny. We also ate a four course meal. The food was so delicious.”
For student Juliette Stovall, learning how to properly hold cutlery was the most interesting and memorable lesson.
“I learned that there are two ways to use your fork and knife—the American style and the Continental style,” said Stovall. “Also, I learned that when you spoon soup, you do it away from you and then eat it.”
Although each grade level covers different, age appropriate subjects, it is important to note that GEM is set up to be a multi-year program, with students beginning in fourth grade and aging out in eighth grade, explained Clay. While this is true, she and Ryan both assured that there would be new, exciting material each season.
“There will be a repeat of some of the things they need practicing—some of the foundational things that we feel like that really need a refresher in in order to get it,” said Clay. “We divided it by age so that we can divide the content in an age appropriate way and that it will build on itself. If a kid comes in fourth grade and then comes every year following, they’ll be getting fresh material and new things that are age appropriate every year that they come.”
With a curriculum that builds on itself, added Ryan, the influx of new students combined with the returning students presents a bit of a challenge. While she and Clay will steadily be working on creating a curriculum that works for all the students, they hope that returning students will aid in teaching the new students.
“As instructors, it will be important that we make sure that the returning students are appropriately challenged and pushed forward, but that the new students don’t feel like they’ve been left behind or that they’re missing something,” said Ryan. “We will really be working on that as we plan our lessons for next year. What I think will be a nice opportunity, is for those students who already have been with us to help us model and teach the students who are new to the program, those things that may need to be reviewed and reinforced in year two.”
The fourth grade students’ knowledge of the subjects they covered were put to the test at their final meeting, where they played a team trivia game for a Tropical Smoothie gift certificate. From a quick observation of the trivia game and chatting with students and parents after the meeting, it was obvious that these kids knew their stuff.
Area resident Greg Taylor, who is the father of student Haley Taylor, explained there has been a noticeable change in her behavior.
“I have definitely noticed a difference,” said Taylor. “I think that they have done a really good job with the dinner table manners and the kind of social interaction manners.”
Enrollment for returning students is currently ongoing. For new students, enrollment will start in April. If interested, visit www.graceetiquettemanners.com and fill out the contact form.