Wagoner Elementary Named National Teach Kindness Champion


School Selected Among More than 650 Registered Schools, From 50 States for Its Strong Commitment to Create A More Positive School Culture

At a celebration at Wagoner Elementary School today, students learned that their school is the 2019 National Teach Kindness Challenge Champion, a distinction that honors their efforts to improve school climate and make the school a safe and supportive place for all students. Teach Kindness is a program created by Stand for Children, a national non-profit education advocacy organization.

As part of the Teach Kindness Challenge, students take part in four weeks of activities and lessons that bolster social-emotional learning and foster a kinder school culture. Students at Wagoner Elementary earned the attention of Stand for Children by going well beyond the classroom lessons and making the 4-week challenge uniquely their own. Wagoner Elementary instituted “Community Circles” to provide students with an assigned time to participate in purposeful, guided discussions about how to be kind and deescalate conflict. Students also created and displayed kindness posters and encouraging messages throughout classrooms, completely transforming their building. Wagoner’s educators have seen numerous instances when student behavior shifted completely towards kindness and away from bullying and misbehavior.

“Teach Kindness creates a space for intentional acts of kindness which eventually become innate in our students and our staff,” Mrs. Robin Brewster, a kindergarten teacher stated. “Teachers are able to redirect students back to Teach Kindness activities during periods of conflict. They can draw on this knowledge to resolve conflict in a positive, caring, and kind manner,” she continued.

The goal of Teach Kindness is to make kindness commonplace in elementary and middle schools. The program provides a no-cost, user-friendly platform for teachers to access high-quality lessons that teach students a wide range of fundamental social-emotional skills. Taken as a whole, the lessons are a result of a remarkable collaboration from some of the country’s leading social-emotional learning experts, including Harvard’s Making Caring Common, Facing History and Ourselves, InspirED, Second Step, the Greater Good Science Center and Yale’s Center for Emotional Intelligence. All contributed their best-in-class lessons free of charge.

“The impact of what Wagoner’s teachers, students, and families are accomplishing extend far beyond the walls of their school building to inspire Illinois and indeed this country. At a time when 21% of high school students are bullied, we are reminded of the importance of social-emotional learning and fostering kindness beginning at an early age. This is so important for our students and for retaining our teachers,” said Mimi Rodman, Executive Director of Stand for Children Illinois.

“The Teach Kindness program is built on the belief that kindness is not something we should expect to happen randomly – it is a skill that can and should be taught,” said Daniel O’Donnell, Director of Teach Kindness. “Students at Wagoner Elementary School have demonstrated that even our youngest students are receptive to high-quality social-emotional learning, and that they’re capable of extraordinary things when schools are intentional about teaching and fostering kindness. We are thrilled to honor the achievement of Wagoner Elementary School students and staff, and we invite schools nationwide to join the movement for kindness.”

During today’s celebration Community Consolidated Schools DISTRICT 168, Wagoner Elementary School was awarded $5,000 in DonorChoose.org credit to be used toward the purchase of materials to continue fostering kindness in their school environment.