Submitted by Vicki Duguay, Principal, River View Community School in MSAD 11
River View Community School in South Gardiner, part of MSAD #11, has taken a concerted effort to increase the kindness factor within our school. We believe that the promotion of kindness among our students and school community is vitally important to the atmosphere within our school. Kindness encourages a positive mindset, which, in turn, nurtures our students while they are learning and participating in their educational endeavors and outside interests and activities.
Research has shown that focusing and teaching the skills and attitudes to have a positive mindset can improve school and community atmosphere and strengthen relationships between students, staff, and the community. Armed with that knowledge, River View staff signed up for the Kindness Challenge at www.kindnesschallenge.com and purposefully implemented Second Step (www.secondstep.org ) in our classrooms.
Our focus has been on intensifying and encouraging a positive and supportive school community where students and staff are kind, supportive, helpful, and caring toward each other. Teachers and staff teach lessons that give students a better understanding of how kindness can directly affect the atmosphere of the school, the mood of others, and have a positive impact on personal self-esteem. The lessons give the students an opportunity to practice being kind and supportive and also time to reflect on how this impacts their daily lives.
Due to the effectiveness and impact of the lessons, our school community evolved from not only staff recognizing students for being kind, but students recognizing each other as being kind and staff going out of their way to recognize their colleagues for their kindness and support as well.
There is a train of kindness ‘shout-outs’ that line our hallways that staff and students have written recognizing acts of kindness that they experienced themselves or observed happening to others. Students and staff are encouraged daily to continue to recognize acts of kindness and add to the ongoing chain.
Students also participated in spreading the ‘kindness germ’ on National JoyGerm Day on January 8th where students made cards that had statements of encouragement and happiness that were distributed throughout our community.
Students are recognizing the importance of practicing kindness for the act itself, not for the recognition or reward that might be given. Each day one can spot little actions that show our focus on kindness is working. One can spot students are saying thank you, asking how a friend feels, holding doors, picking up papers and items on the floor, and helping fellow classmates within the classroom.
Does Kindness Matter? We at River View Community School say yes! We have proven through our efforts and focused activities that being kind and spreading kindness can and does have a beneficial and uplifting impact at our school. We have seen our discipline referrals decrease by 50% since our purposeful focus on Kindness began. Our motto is, “In a world where you can be anything, Be Kind.”