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FEATURE - "Kindness matters with Garland Elementary"

GARLAND – By Cari Doutre – Jan. 30, 2020

Kindness does matter and it is something that teachers and staff at Garland Elementary School are teaching every day. It’s just one of eight-character traits that the school emphasizes year-round, but this week was just a little more “challenging” for students.

This week the school participated in the Great Kindness Challenge week, Jan. 27-31, 2020, a nationwide movement that creates a culture of kindness. Last year the initiative’s 2019 efforts involved over 13 million students at over 24,000 schools at 110 different countries.

Heading up the school’s efforts is school counselor Marcia Wilson. This is the second year Wilson has been at Garland Elementary and it’s the only school she works for. That exclusivity allows her more individual attention to the school of 750 students. When Wilson heard about Great Kindness Challenge Week last year, she knew she wanted to get students involved.

“It’s a world-wide initiative that started in California and it’s just about kindness. When I saw it last year, I wanted to be a part of it,” Wilson said.

There are eight-character traits that kids don’t inherently know, Wilson said. Those character traits are optimism, humility, forgiveness, compassion, empathy, patience, gratitude and kindness.

“Students need to be taught them and kindness is one of them. That’s why we decided to join this initiative and be a part of it,” she added.

Last year the school started doing activities during recess, but this year took it up a notch. This week began with a big kickoff assembly. There’s also a kindness check list for students to try and complete, a “Kindness Matters” shouting contest, a guest speaker and more. To top it all off, on Thursday, Jan. 30, the entire student body did a kindness photo.

Every grade was assigned a color (red, orange, yellow, green, blue or purple) and together formed the shaped a rainbow-colored heart, a sign of kindness and how it matters to Garland Elementary School.

Throughout the school are posters made by students encouraging kindness towards each other. It doesn’t end there.

“High fives’, hugs, notes, it’s been really cool to see them be excited about it,” Wilson said about the entire school’s efforts.

The school teaches kindness year-round.

“We’re constantly trying to teach this trait at this school,” Wilson added.

The students at Garland Elementary have also been learning a song called “Spread Kindness” with sign language as part of the performance.

These character traits are taught during a life skills class, an opportunity every student gets to participate in.

“We’re really trying to make kindness a huge focus,” Wilson said.

Teachers have also got involved in the “Kindness Matters” initiative, forming classroom activities that highlight those caught being kind to one another.

“The kids are loving every second of it,” she added. “They’re excited to keep doing it.”


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