“Be the reasons that someone smiles today.”
We started the month with Random Acts of Kindness Week. The school was decorated with quotes and ideas of how to spread kindness to others. Lessons were taught that focused on the meaning of kindness and what we can do to spread it. Students of all ages also focused on the idea of what it really means to be kind. Our own Smith Smarties in pre-kindergarten even got involved and they created signs with pictures of children wearing vests with letters on them that spelled out "you matter," "you are beautiful," "you are smart," and other touching messages. Classrooms throughout the school took time to read books and watch videos about kindness.
Learning Center Specialist Laura Hicks was our guest speaker at our assemblies. She shared her thoughts on kindness. She told students how their acts of kindness last year helped her in her battle with cancer. She explained to students that even their simplest of gestures—a note, a meal, a kind word, or their compassion towards her in the way she looked without hair—really helped her to get through a difficult time. Mrs. Hicks thanked them for their love and kindness. Her words very much impacted the students as they were able to feel how their kind acts helped her in her time of need.
Kindness month also included the third grade making appreciation hearts for their Valentines. They wrote something that they appreciated about each student on their Valentine notes. This activity was a powerful one for students. They realized what their classmates valued. Students also began to realize not just who their friends were, but also other students that they would like to get to know better. Activities like this are powerful in building community.
Other activities included a fifth-grade student that shared that his cousin was in the Air Force, and that his unit had not received any letters or cards in a while. Students jumped at the chance and made handmade cards to send to the soldiers.
It is important to note that, at Darlington, kindness reaches beyond the month of February. Our second grade, for example, starts every Friday with a service project called Friendship Friday. They write notes, cards, or letters to those who need encouragement or a kind word. This year they have written birthday cards for teachers, cards for pre-K, appreciation cards for teachers around school, and notes congratulating the teachers that gave birth throughout the school year.
In middle school, our grades 6-8 advisee groups spent the month trying to answer some of the following questions:
What does it mean to be kind?
How can we be kind daily?
What does it take to be kind?
How can we be kind even if we do not like someone?
Some examples of their kind acts include Mrs. Beaucham's advisee group making goody bags to thank our cafeteria workers and security guards, and Mrs. Human’s group that wrote birthday cards to our custodian, Mr. Storey.
It became apparent that the students understood that being kind requires us to not just notice others in need, but also to extend our hands in help and friendship. Students saw how their actions helped others and created a chain reaction of kindness. It is this process that will continue to build a kind and caring community that lasts well beyond the month of February.