This school year Greenfield Elementary has embarked on a project that is helping both students and staff focus more on kindness.
It’s called the Kindness Project, and according to principal Bob Schumm, the school’s counselor, Maggie Dobson, helped get the project going with students during National Bullying Prevention Month in October. He said some of the topics of the project have been about discussing what bullying is, how students can be “Upstanders to STOMPOut Bullying”, and how practicing kindness through actions and words creates a more positive culture in the school and community.
Schumm said Greenfield Elementary has challenged students and staff to practice acts of kindness and to share those acts with others by adding a leaf — which is actually a paper heart — for each kind act to their classroom’s kindness tree. The trunk of each tree was created by the fifth grade classes and art teacher Cathy Rivas.
Dobson said the whole project idea came about with a survey asking teachers what they would like to see regarding student support, and the biggest response, she said, was that they would like to see more kindness. From there, Dobson teamed up with Schumm and assistant principal Lindsay McNeal, and they talked about ways to make this happen in a tangible way that would keep students’ and staff members’ minds on kindness. From that was born the kindness trees.
It happened rather conveniently, Dobson said, so that everything was able to get started right around October’s Bully Prevention Month. Dobson said she chose that timing “to highlight the behaviors we’d like to see at school while also discussing and educating students about what bullying is and ways they can help stop it.”
Dobson said she tries to get around to each classroom at least once a month “to discuss topics and relate them back to our initial kindness discussion like bullying prevention, how to be a good friend, gratitude, and so on. Sometimes there are classroom specific topics that teachers ask me to address with the class, so we do that, too.”
Each class has a tree and the goal is for those trees to remain in the hall for the entire school year so that the message of being kind stays in front of everyone. Dobson said she’s had to play “tree surgeon” a few times, but so far the trees are holding up well.
Students are encouraged to practice kindness at school and at home, and they can share with their teachers the kind acts they have performed. For those acts, students can add a heart to their classroom’s tree. Also, if a teacher observes a kind act, that also warrants a heart added to the tree. Younger students can draw a picture representing kindness on their heart, while the older students write about kindness on theirs.
“The hearts are the leaves on the trees so I keep reminding students by the time we’re at the end of the school year, our trees will be big and bold with kind leaves/hearts,” Dobson said.
“Now that the students are halfway through the school year, the trees are starting to fill out and grow up,” Schumm said. “Greenfield Elementary staff are proud of the students’ continued efforts as they are learning and practicing kindness.”
While this particular project is at Greenfield Elementary, Dobson said Rainsboro and Buckskin elementaries are doing similar character building activities with counselor Randa Storer.
Also, the district as a whole has the Positive Behavioral Intervention Supports (PBIS) program that aims to build positive character traits and reinforce them.
To keep up with the happenings at Greenfield Elementary, go to the building’s Facebook page. For district information and updates, go to the district Facebook page or to the website at https://www.greenfield.k12.oh.us