• Franklin Elementary students make cards for one another
  • Franklin students painted rocks with positive messages
  • Felida Elementary students practice kindness by making blankets for families in crisis
  • Felida Elementary students practice kindness by painting rocks with inspirational messages

Hello! Welcome to the Inside Vancouver Public Schools podcast. I’m your host, Steve Webb, superintendent of Vancouver Public Schools.

This episode is all about something that can be easy to overlook: kindness. One of the paragons of kindness, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., famously said, “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

But how does one get to that point, and what causes kindness? Is it innate? Do we learn how to behave with love, empathy and compassion? Is it a combination of factors?

In Vancouver Public Schools, we believe that emotional intelligence is something to be cultivated and embraced.

Recently, students and staff members throughout the district engaged in impressive and inspiring efforts to show kindness at their schools, at their homes, in their communities and even around the world.

Following Dr. King’s example, the Felida Elementary staff planned a morning of service activities: everything from beautifying the school to creating toiletry kits for homeless people. Fifth-grader Samra Tarrant and fourth-grader Emily Patton explain:

“It’s important to do something for other people because then you know how they feel. Like, they’re less privileged than you so you kind of want to help out.”

“Sometimes if they’re feeling down, or others don’t feel their best, if you do something for them it will make them feel better and have more confidence and if you like give them a special message or something they might take it to heart and feel better.”

Felida students also made encouraging cards for the students at Sacajawea Elementary, who in turn took on their own Great Kindness Challenge.

Over at Franklin Elementary, counselor Lisa DiMurro-Johnson has organized an entire week of kindness for the past three years. This time, students accomplished a whopping 973 acts of kindness, including reading aloud to one another, making cards and billboards and painting rocks with positive messages. Fourth-grader Chloe Schatz sees the potential for learning about kindness to have widespread implications:

“It can spread to the world and everybody would know. So that the world can be happier and there would be less bullies and sadness.”

“I feel like kindness should be known more and done more, because a lot of people just forget about it.”

Those are just a few examples of the many kindness events taking place in Vancouver schools. However, kindness doesn’t end after a single day or week. Helping students recognize how to respect and love one another is an important part of our ongoing work to create safe, supportive learning environments. It’s one of the most essential lessons we can impart.

Finally, on Feb. 12 the Vancouver community paid us the ultimate kindness: approving two critical levies that fund vital staff positions, services, programs and tools. The levies will allow us all to do what we do best: serving children and their families by providing world-class educations and the support for students to continue to be successful long after they graduate. It speaks highly of the entire Vancouver staff that voters have reaffirmed their confidence in our work. I am so grateful.

That’s it for this episode. Until next time, let’s all continue to try to be kind to one another. We’re stronger when we work together.

Thank you for listening. Take care.

Image: Steve signature

Kindness in action

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Did we miss your class or school’s kindness events? Let us know and we’ll include it here.