I packed a bag lunch for my second grader this morning. Actually, he packed it for himself, but I stood guard making sure there was something other than sugar in his noontime meal. The last thing that kid needs right now is sugar. Ben is pumped so full of end-of-the-year adrenaline that I say a little prayer for his teacher each day as I usher my 8-year-old out the door.
Field trips, final chapters during story time, throwing away old crayons and crumpled papers… there is something special about the end of the school year.
I know teachers often send their students off to summer break wondering if the late hours and lesson plans even made a difference. I’ve had friends question aloud if what they’ve taught will stick.
You know what I tell them? The kids will remember your kindness.
They may forget that “i comes before e except after c”, but they will remember the warm smiles and the encouraging words.
I was walking through my son’s school a few weeks ago when I noticed hand-drawn pictures of kindness pasted on the walls. And not just one wall.
Everywhere I went in the school I saw small signs that read, “Kindness makes smiles,” “More kindness, more smiles,” and “Be kind today.” Each one was signed by The Kindness Ninjas.
I wondered which classroom was responsible until I stopped in to say hi to my third grade teacher friend, Liz.
Ms. Liz was sitting in a rocking chair with her class gathered around her feet. She looked at them conspiratorially and whispered, “Should we tell Mrs. Phillips about our secret?”The class voted to let me in on their weekly mission to spread kindness throughout the school.
They went on to tell me about writing chalk messages on the playground, secretly putting notes in library books and sending digital cards to a student in the hospital. Then they fessed up about the Kindness Ninja signs.
They talked about sending a smile around the room and seeing how many smiles they could “collect” from others during the day.
Those are the lessons that will stick. I know because I could see it in their faces. They got it. They understood the power of kindness and how to use it to reroute a bad day.
I’d say to Ms. Liz, and all the other teachers out there who make kindness a priority in the classroom, mission accomplished. Well done. Your kindness matters.
Now pull out the sunscreen and go enjoy your summer.
I would like to send a special thank you to Miss Nikki’s preschool class in Evansville, Wis., for creating this beautiful construction paper flower. You’re right, kindness is contagious!
Please continue to share your stories of kindness with me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or send a letter to Kindness is Contagious c/o Nicole J. Phillips, The Forum, 101 5th St. N., Box 2020, Fargo, ND 58107.
Nicole J. Phillips is a former television anchor for Fox News in Fargo. She is a writer, speaker and mother of three kids. Nicole is married to Ohio University’s men’s head basketball coach Saul Phillips. You can visit Nicole at nicolejphillips.com.