For students at Bauerwood Elementary the month of February has meant taking on a new set of challenges. Principal Crystal Morse issued The Great Kindness Challenge and students accepted it with enthusiasm and creativity!
Introduced by Bauerwood Spanish teacher, Brooke Harvey, Mrs. Morse decided there was an opportunity to take the idea beyond a few teachers but make it a very purposeful, school-wide initiative. Teachers were given a checklist of ideas to get their students thinking about ways to show kindness to others but they were also encouraged to come up with their own ideas and think outside the box. Participating students keep track of their acts of kindness [with a parent signing off] and if they complete 25 they are invited to the celebration in mid-March. Some of the options given to students to get them started were: compliment 5 people, carry your friend’s books, read a book to a younger child, or thank a bus or car pool driver.
At each grade level the acts of kindness vary based on ability and how students are learning about what kindness means. For instance, a Kindergarten student who is just learning what kindness looks like might score a point from an observant teacher for assisting a fellow student with their snow gear while preparing to go outside for recess or holding a door open for a friend. “We’ve always been fortunate that our teachers and kids have embraced the “please’s and thank you’s” but even now [as an example] as they’re going through lunch, extending that extra “thank you very much” and recognizing those daily tasks that people do that make our life work well and affirming that. We’re a huge Capturing Kids Hearts building and affirmations and Good Things are always a part of our day. So it was about taking that to the next level.” — Ms. Morse
Some of the older students took the idea of “thinking creatively” very seriously and came up with some special ideas. Two second graders have taken it upon themselves to come in at the end of every day to give Bauerwood Secretary, Beth Michalski, a hug and say “I hope you have a great night”. “The end of the day is very crazy and to have those little smiling faces come in – and they catch the bus so it’s not long, just a quick moment – run in, and say “here’s your hug and have a great night” and away they go. And it’s makes the end of the day, when all the chaos is going on, to have somebody come in and take a minute to do that is very meaningful.” — Ms. Michalski
There are 6th graders that brave frozen fingers and wind chills to change the marquee sign out front. And upper elementary students modeling the Challenge as they make signs around the school promoting it.
Throughout the month students have been recognizing “how much thoughtfulness counts”. Ms Morse says that she is already so grateful that the staff at Bauerwood is “unbelievably thoughtful”, whether it’s sharing clothes between their kids, bringing each other meals or “a hundred different ways they take care of each other. And the students see that from us each day and this has given us a vehicle to have conversation and give kids a vocabulary to use. It can be the every day, little things that matter.”
“One of the things we take pride in is that Bauerwood is big and we’ve always maintained a family feel, so this is one way that we can keep that as a very central part of who we are and what we want to be known for. School is about partnering with families to grow the whole child and this is a big piece of that. We see relationships as a priority and growing the whole child is a huge part of our focus.” – Ms Morse