General John Stricker Middle School Wins National Middle School Kindness Challenge

At a celebration at General John Stricker Middle School on Friday, March 22, students learned that they have been named the National Middle School Kindness Challenge Champion, a distinction that honors their efforts to improve school climate and make school a safe and supportive place. The Middle School Kindness Challenge (MSKC), is a program of Stand for Children, a national non-profit education advocacy organization.

As part of the MSKC, General John Stricker students took part in four weeks of activities and lessons that generated dialogue around the importance of demonstrating kindness in school and in life. Students participated in several activities to become a kinder school including creating their own kindness patches during homeroom to highlight kindness acts they witnessed throughout their school day, creating a quilt from these patches, and creating a kindness tree with positive letters and messages to one another. During their four-week program, students embodied kindness and set out to improve their school culture by making it a safe and supportive place for all students to thrive.

“The most powerful part is the leadership from our teachers and students,” said Principal Laurie Phillips Friend. “The kindness challenge went right along with the work we’re doing this year on trauma-informed instruction. Not only did most educators sign up to teach a kindness lesson, but the challenge also gave students a purpose—even kids you would not expect to participate,” she continued.

The goal of the Middle School Kindness Challenge is to make kindness commonplace in middle schools and improve school climate by providing a no-cost, user-friendly platform for teachers to access high-quality, easy-to-implement lessons that help students strengthen peer relationships, build empathy and develop a positive mindset. The content on kindness building comes from leading providers, including Harvard’s Making Caring Common Initiative, Facing History and Ourselves, InspirED, the Greater Good Science Center and Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. All contributed their best-in-class lessons at no charge.

“It’s becoming more and more apparent that we need to teach children to manage their emotions and actions and to regularly demonstrate kindness in their day to day lives,” said Jonah Edelman, co-founder and chief executive officer of Stand for Children. “General John Stricker Middle School students demonstrated that young people are hungry for kindness-centered activities and that they genuinely want to learn in an environment where respect, caring and support are common-place. We honor their efforts and invite schools nationwide to join this movement.”

During today’s celebration students received t-shirts and a large check in the amount of $5,000 in Donors Choose credit to be used toward the purchase of materials to continue fostering kindness in their school environment.

About General John Stricker Middle School:

Baltimore County Public Schools, the nation’s 25th largest school system, emphasizes literacy across all subject areas and warm, healthy school climates to prepare every student for college and careers. Thanks to innovative and talented leaders, teachers, and staff, BCPS celebrates many honors.

About the Middle School Kindness Challenge:

The Middle School Kindness Challenge, a program of Stand for Children, is an easy and no-cost way to foster kindness and improve school climate in the critical middle school years. Open to any school with a combination of grades 5-8, the Challenge offers best-in-class resources to teach and foster kindness, free of charge, over a four-week period of the school’s choosing. This is a powerful, common sense solution to some of schools’ and society’s biggest challenges. By teaching kids to practice kindness on a regular basis and manage their emotions, actions, and statements, they become better equipped to navigate our complex world.

About Stand for Children:

Stand for Children is a non-profit education advocacy organization focused on ensuring all students receive a high quality, relevant education, especially those whose boundless potential is overlooked and under-tapped because of their skin color, zip code, first language, or disability. We make an impact by:

  • Partnering with parents to support their children’s education journey and to become strong advocates.
  • Advocating, mainly at the state and local level, for proven policies and funding primarily focused on helping students reach make-or-break milestones:
    • Reading well by the end of third grade
    • Graduating high school ready for college, career training, or a career
  • Ensuring the changes we fight for reach classrooms and directly support students.