After we completed our annual state school climate survey last year, our School Climate Committee realized that we needed more positive measures in place. The results from students and staff showed a decline in social-emotional learning, and as a school, we knew we needed a change.
Teach Kindness was exactly the kind of program we needed to improve school culture. The activities and lessons provided during the four-week challenge helped bring empathy and kindness to the forefront of our daily conversations and interactions.
As part of the challenge, the 7th grade students had a bread making presentation led by the King Arthur Flour Company. They were shown various techniques to make bread, and then they were given ingredients to take home. They were charged with making a loaf of bread for home and making one for our local soup kitchen (The Friendship Table). Students donated many loaves and reported that it was such a worthwhile experience.
The 7th graders also decorated and wrote kind holiday messages on coffee sleeves for our local Tim Hortons coffee shop. The sleeves were given out between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
Our 8th graders prepared and sent care packages for troops during the holiday season. The entire student body also participated in an Imagine Math: Do Math! Pay it Forward challenge,where they donated the most math points in the state of Pennsylvania to the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. Our school donated approximately $1211 to these food banks! Classrooms also had many discussions about kindness and empathy as well as positive peer interactions with poster creations and even appreciation letter writing campaigns.
Students realized that kindness can be paid forward. By donating to the Pennsylvania food banks, by giving to the local soup kitchen, by sending care packages to our troops, and even by writing positive messages to peers and caring adults, students saw firsthand their positive impact on other individuals.
To recognize students for their kind acts, we implemented a Student of the Week initiative. Student nominations are posted on our Main Lobby bulletin board, are posted on our in-house television studio feed, and are also mailed home to parents. Students feel validated for their positive impacts in the classroom and in the school, and they flock to the bulletin board each week to see which students have been nominated.
Participating in the Teach Kindness Challenge brings awareness to how everyone deserves a voice and that sometimes students and adults need to make time to hear each other. The challenge promotes a supportive, caring environment where everyone excels to be their best selves.