February is ‘Kindness Month’ at Nevis School. The window at the elementary entrance is covered with colorful hearts, not just because Valentine’s Day is this month, but because the district’s focus is on showing love and kindness within the school and community.
“Research shows kindness improves the climate of the school, reduces bullying, has a positive impact on the community and more,” Principal Brian Michaelson said. “The goal is that each student strive for 10 or more acts of kindness in February. Throughout the month we will be focusing on why kindness matters and promoting random acts of kindness throughout the school.”
With over 500 students that could add up to more than 5,000 kind acts, but high school social worker Heidi Wormley said the emphasis isn’t on the total, but on each kind act being valued.
“Kindness Month is an awakening, a gentle reminder that we need to be more aware of being kind and doing the right thing,” she said. “Kids are paying attention to their interactions, to how they’re treating each other. Acknowledging when someone does something good or kind or respectful is a reminder people are paying attention. We’re also trying to focus on a new positive quote every day. From the mental health perspective we’re trying to gear it towards working through stuff in a positive way.”
She said one word of the day was “giving.” “Giving of yourself, giving of your time, your talent whatever it is,” she said.
Teachers have developed many activities and challenges to encourage students to find new ways to practice kindness.
From kindergarten through the high school hallways, art featuring words and images about kindness emphasizes positive things students are doing.
In the kindergarten classrooms, students are learning about what it means to be kind. For these young students, kindness can be a simple thing. Cousins Raelynn Goehring and Amelia Blevins said being kind means playing with someone and letting them play with you.
First graders color in a piece of a heart when they see someone else doing an act of kindness. “Kindness is something everyone should do,” student Azariah Ogundeji said.
Second graders are collecting donations for the local food shelf and third graders are writing about acts of kindness at school and home.
Doing little acts of kindness may only take a moment or two but to the person receiving the kindness it makes their day better.
“One kind thing I did was pick up pencils when someone spilled them,” third grader Jacob Lester said.
“When I fell down at recess, someone helped me get right back up and played with me for the rest of the day,” fourth grader Paisleigh Brakke said.
Fourth graders document kindness in the Google classroom. When they see other students doing random acts of kindness, they submit the student’s name and the kind act they performed. Teachers track the submissions through a computer spreadsheet.
Fifth graders are writing something kind on a heart and putting one on every elementary locker.
Sixth graders made a “Kindness All-Stars” bulletin board in the hallway with each star highlighting a random act of kindness someone completed.
“Kindness is something you do for someone when they’re upset or sad,” sixth grader Temperance Mountjoy said.
Middle school students each wrote three notes of kindness to school staff and five notes to other students. One group of students made a bouquet of tissue paper flowers with the message “kindness is power.”
A kindness wall is featured in the school cafeteria, with student artwork along with a banner that says “Kindness Matters.”
“Kindness matters because if somebody does something kind to you then you can do something kind to them back,” seventh grader Kayden Brandenburg said.
In the high school, each teacher led their own kindness activities, including kindness challenges.
In one classroom, a “kindness” image is on the screen each day along with the words, “Were you kind to someone today?” and a file where students record acts of kindness they have completed. In another classroom, a calendar has a different challenge each day for doing something nice for others.
At the end of the month, a schoolwide celebration of kindness is planned. Students in the high school art department are creating a banner for students to sign pledging to be kind.