The fourth graders in room 135 at Eleanor Rush Intermediate School are working on a unique kindness project. Their teacher, Tat Monnoleto, is extremely proud of her “kind bunch” as she calls them.
“It all started with Kyle R., and the act of kindness that he did over the winter break to remember the 26 victims of the Sandy Hook school shooting. Kyle and his dad bought (partly with Kyle’s pocket money) 26 dozen donuts and then handed them out to their friends and neighbors,” Monnoleto said.
Monnoleto added, “I thought this was a lovely idea and decided that we should keep the kindness going by making this the first of 26 acts of kindness that room 135 would complete. It is so important that we teach our students to be kind members of society, and to keep the memory of the Sandy Hook victims in our hearts.”
So far, room 135 has spread happiness by making a basket of cards and chocolates for the lady who cleans their messy classroom after they leave; made bouquets of paper flowers for the nurse, principal, specials teachers, and office staff; helped neighbors by shoveling their snow; collected hats, scarves, and gloves to donate to a homeless shelter in Camden; made a big congratulations card for a student who made it into Advanced Band; and performing many other good deeds for friends, family and strangers.
Linda Conn, an assistant in Monnoleto’s classroom said, “The students are so engaged and our biggest hope is that it grows even more.”
Melanie Kurantz in the office told Conn that she was touched by the gift of tissue flowers given to her by the children. Conn said, “They weren’t roses from a florist yet the reaction was the same, it’s important to remember you don’t have to spend a lot of money to extend kindness to one another.”
A few years back, I wrote about Peg O’Malley, another fourth grade teacher at Rush School and her lessons in kindness. She is again working on Random Acts of Kindness with her students this week.
In O'Malley's words, "We must stress good-old-fashioned kindness, wherever and whenever we can. Most young children have a very strong sense of right and wrong, and want to do the right thing. They want to be kind!"
Denise Sciortino, a third grade teacher at Rush, keeps a Compliment Box in her classroom all year round. Her students think of nice things to say to other classmates and every Wednesday, they pick some out and share them. Sciortino says, “They love it.”
Who doesn’t love getting a compliment, right?
Debbie Banecker, the school’s principal likes catching students exhibiting good character. Teachers hand out good character tickets each month and students with tickets share and enjoy lunch with the principal.
We need to remember, kindness isn’t limited to kids, we as adults should model this behavior for children too. I think it’s wonderful that Kyle’s parents encouraged him to go out of his way to be kind to others while remembering the 26 lives lost at Sandy Hook. I know I am often so caught up in my own issues and schedules that I forget how important it is to teach my children how to be kind and quite frankly, I’ve probably shown unkind behavior on many occasions. I hate that.
Kindness definitely begins at home and should be nurtured there but it is nice to know it is reinforced in school as well. Science has proven that teaching kindness has positive results for everyone. Researchers from the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside performed a study proving that students who are kind are well liked, more popular and genuinely happier than those who do not reach out to others in compassion.
Kindness does matter and makes a difference in the lives of all who are touched by it.
So, what are you planning for Random Acts of Kindness Week? Here are some ideas from the Random Acts of Kindness website.
- Smile at 10 strangers on Monday
- Buy something for the person in the line behind you on Tuesday
- Reach out to someone you haven't talked to in a while on Wednesday.
- Bring a treat to a neighbor or co-workers on Thursday
- Donate your time or money to a local charity on Friday
- Cook a healthy meal for your family on Saturday
- Let someone go in front of you in line on Sunday
You never know what one act of kindness may do for the receiver and the giver. Try it and see.
Have a great day and a week full of random kindness! Happy Valentine's Day too, what a perfect time to be kind.