One Word Project

Words of Positivity and Growth Line Carmel School Hallways  

As an English teacher, Mallory Gray knows the importance of choosing the right word.  

 A member of the district’s Equity Committee, Gray helped her seventh-grade students think about the impact of words as part of the school district’s One Word Project. Then she guided the students as they turned their words into works of art.  The same process played out in each of Carmel Central School District’s five schools, where impactful words line the hallways.     

"We did it during homeroom," said Gray, who teaches English at both George Fischer Middle School and Carmel High School. "The students thought it was cool. Our hope is that their one word is what they will turn to and keep in mind when they face hard times."  

The Carmel Central School District Equity Committee’s goals for the 2023-24 school year included creating an affirming environment for our students, said committee member Michele Love, who teaches third grade at Matthew Paterson Elementary School. 

The committee decided on the One Word Project, in which students choose one word to serve as inspiration for the year ahead. Students turned their One Word into a piece of art. Now the artwork is displayed in the hallways at every school and the words inspire students in every grade. 

Gray’s students said they thought a lot before choosing a word that meant something to them.  

One seventh grader, Joseph, described his word choice.  

“I chose ‘Goals’ as my word because it reminds you what you are aiming for,” Joseph said. “If you’re ever not doing too great, it reminds you what you want so it helps you get back on track.”  

Gabriel explained why he picked the word “Grow. 

“Every day, even if you’re doing nothing, you’re growing, you’re changing,” he said.  

Kaitlyn said she picked “Believe,” because “I felt like if you believe you can do something. you are more likely to achieve it.”    

Jennifer picked “Optimism.”  

“I think you should always hope for a good thing that you want,” she said. “You just have to try your best and be positive.” 

Interim School Superintendent Joseph McGrath called the project a success.  

“The districtwide initiative was focused on positivity and growth,” McGrath said. “I think if you walk the hallways of Carmel’s five schools and see the students’ One Word Projects lining the walls, you see the focus, hope and optimism our students embody. I think that the District Equity Committee’s project more than achieved its goal.”