For anyone who has ever entered Monroe Elementary School, you’ve likely felt the warmth and kindness that just naturally exudes from the teachers, staff, and students there.
Compassion and kindness were elevated to an even higher level in February when everyone in the school observed Kindness Week.
The initiative is not new to Monroe Elementary and was introduced as a way of boosting building morale. Each year, the focus changes slightly but the goal of spreading care and compassion remains constant.
Last school year, for example, Kindness activities were designed to create building relationships due to the merging of two staff (Monroe Elementary and New Richmond Elementary), explained School Psychologist Carrie Pugh.
“This year we focused more on self-care and being kind to ourselves,” she said. “This was prompted by recent research articles noting the decline in teacher/school staff mental health since dealing with the Pandemic.”
Superintendent Tracey Miller said that he’s proud of the Kindness theme week.
“A significant portion of a well-rounded education takes place in lessons learned outside the classroom,” he said. “We want all of our students to not just grow academically, but also socially and emotionally as well as they progress through their path through the New Richmond Schools.”
Each school year the special week includes components for the community, district, building/staff, and the students.
For example, this year’s Kindness Week community component focused on two key projects. The first involved making care packages for Steamboat Spring residents. The packages included “hugs” from preschool students in the form of two handprints created by the children and inserted in the packages.
The second community focus project was made possible with the support of two business partners, Papa John’s Pizza and Snappy Tomato Pizza, who supported the theme of “Kindness is our Favorite Topping.” Students created “kindness messages” which were delivered with pizza orders.
“Each year, Kindness Week is an opportunity for us to teach the importance of showing care and compassion for our school, for each other, for our community, and for ourselves,” explained Principal Jamie Kunz. She emphasized that such positive celebrations are important because research has shown that schools with a positive climate demonstrate higher levels of student growth and achievement.
“In addition to academics, these are the types of lessons that we want to make sure our students remember and carry forward as they learn and grow,” she added.
For this year’s district component, banners celebrating kindness were sent to all district buildings and to the bus garage.
As part of the staff/teacher component, all staff members received a Kindness Kit and had access to a “self-care” room where they could enjoy heated towels, soft music, positive messages, snacks, and more. At the culmination of the week, each teacher was also presented with a book of thank you cards and letters from their students, explaining what made each of them special.
Throughout the week, students participated in classroom activities that included crafting and journaling projects. Students were recognized and rewarded by their teachers and their peers for demonstrating kindness to others during the school day. Students also received a checklist of kind activities to complete while at school and at home - classes that reached a certain goal earned a pizza party sponsored by the PTO.
Principal Kunz shared that Kindness Week 2021 was remarkably successful for everyone involved. Despite being rescheduled due to the Pandemic and again by Mother Nature, she explained that those delays allowed the Kindness Committee at Monroe to go above and beyond to make the week extra special for the entire learning community.
Kindness Week has given us the opportunity to move our focus towards the future and grow our optimism for how incredible that future can be when we practice kindness.