Our Excellence lessons have ended for the schools and they went fantastically. The students really got into showing how they grow, how they achieve Excellence, and how setting goals can help. I was really proud of the students for getting into it. Since that has ended, we have now moved into Respect and Bullying (oh no... that "B" word that we have all been dreading talking about). We normally do Respect and Bullying in August to start the year, but with new laws coming into effect, our District had to change how we classify Bullying, how we react to Bullying, and how we elicit changes in behaviors to prevent Bullying. Unfortunately, there was a big "hullabaloo" at our Administrative level regarding how we can present school-wide lessons and information on Bullying...
Hello, School Counselor standing RIGHT HERE!
Once the light bulb came on, we lowly Counselors were FINALLY able to present the lessons we had planned since August (but had to pause on while Admin figured who could present them... again, seriously?).
So we have begun our lessons and they are going great! We really try to make everyone understand the difference between Bullying and just plain being mean or rude. Neither are tolerated at our schools... but when EVERYTHING is Bullying, then NOTHING is Bullying. We talk about intent, duration, and effect of behaviors. I love hearing students (even my Kindergartners) tell me the difference between Bullying and someone being mean or rude. I think language is a powerful thing and proper terminology can go a long way! I'll be sharing some upcoming Bullying lessons here soon.
But I really wanted to share a quick "yea, I love this job" moment I had yesterday. My Wildcat Principal called me into her office first thing (yep, I am 28 years old, 6'4'' and 220 lbs and being called into the Principal's office still scares me). However, she wanted to tell me she had received a call from a woman in Newtown, Conneticut.
See, the day after Sandy Hook happened, I really felt like our small town in Indiana needed to do something to say "hey, we're praying for you all". So after I told my Principals what I wanted to do, I gave each teacher (at both schools) a container and told the students we would be raising money to send. Not really a battle or a contest. Not a Penny War... just a simple collection. The classroom that raised the most I decided I would buy Pizza for just to say thanks. I also set up a small table with construction paper for them to make cards as they wanted. Simple.
OH MY... The response was overwhelming. Kids were breaking open Piggy Banks, classrooms were cashing in points for coins, kids were giving us their lunch money (seriously!). I had to buy more construction paper after about two days.
The other four Elementary schools came aboard and in only four days we raised $2,697.54. Considering the poverty rate in our city and our over 90% FNR population, this was astronomical! We also filled three paper boxes FULL of cards, letters, poems, and pictures. The love that poured out of our students was remarkable.
Jump ahead a year... and unbeknownst to us, there is now an individual in Newtown, Connecticut who has the responsibility of sorting, cataloging and inventorying ALL post received due to the shooting. I bet no one thought about that! Because of the over one million parcels of mail received, parents and family members have stopped receiving mail and it is being stored until they are ready. And with all that, there is this ONE individual who is reading and sorting and organizing all this mail.
But, despite all that grief and angst, she read a letter sent by one of our 6th graders (a letter discussing the student's own personal loss) and felt so moved by her story, she wanted to reach out and write back to her! Imagine that... a town that is still in grief and mourning the loss of their loved ones- but she wanted to reach out to our student in small-town Indiana to say "hey, I'm praying for you". So she wrote to her and is sending it back to our school and wanted the Principal or myself to deliver it to the now-7th-grader (and now at the Middle School). Um... Wow. I was speechless.
Tonight when your done reading this, stop for a moment and say a prayer for this woman who is having to relive the worst day in her life by sorting all these gifts of love... but still finds the strength of compassion and love for others to connect and care. Makes you wonder what kind of School Counselor she would have been :)
With that in mind, I pray all of you have a great week. Remember, even in your own storm, you still have the love and compassion to reach out and calm someone else's.