Kindness rules at Crispell

Crispell Middle School named one of 10 finalists in national Middle School Kindness Challenge

Kindness fosters happiness, inclusion and more kindness. Crispell Middle School has put kindness front and center to its students and was recently named one of 10 finalists in the Middle School Kindness Challenge (MSKC) which kicked off in the fall of 2018. Great news for the school staff and students who have focused on being kind throughout this school year.

Six adults and one middle school student dressed in green stand in front of a sign for the difference wall to mark dwarfism awareness.
Seventh-grade Crispell student Hailey, fourth from left, had the idea to create a Difference Wall at Crispell as a way to celebrate her and her classmates’ unique qualities. It was part of the recognition of Dwarfism Awareness in New York.

 “The objectives of the Challenge mirror the qualities we value here at Crispell: kindness, acceptance and inclusion,” said Assistant Principal Jennifer Lepore. “We participated in the Middle School Kindness Challenge in the fall of 2017, and after having an overwhelmingly positive response, we decided to accept it again in the fall of 2018.”

And it paid off. Not just in being named a finalist. Lepore explained that the effectiveness of the challenge was the result of what teachers did in their classrooms.

For example, three times a week in Stacey Mark’s homeroom, she and her students held a meeting where they talked about things happening in the school and in the world that needed to change. They would brainstorm about kind things they could do for others. During the holidays they wrote cards to random people, just to brighten their day.

A long poster with the words Difference Wall and a green ribbon

Helen Fitzgibbons’ class participated in the “Letting Go of Anger Through Compassion” activity. They had open, candid discussions about situations in their everyday lives that make them feel angry. They learned how anger physically affects your body and how meditation is an effective strategy to dissipate anger. The students even participated in a guided meditation, focusing on slowing their breathing and visualizing a positive image.

“Our students were very enthusiastic and receptive,” said Fitzgibbons.

 “We did a math lesson titled ‘Mental Subtraction of Relationships.’ Each student was asked to think of a person very special to them and how their life would be different without this individual,” said John Tobin.

Through this assignment, the students gained a greater appreciation for this special person, each writing a heartfelt letter to their special person.

They also learned lessons from one of their classmates. Hailey has dwarfism and she wanted her peers to learn more about it but also wanted to celebrate everyone’s differences. Hailey designed a “Difference Wall” with her peers, and the students posted positive, unique qualities about themselves. The Difference Wall was in Crispell’s main hallway for all to see.

“By starting the school year off with the Kindness Challenge, I noticed our community grew stronger,” said Lepore. “Instilling a positive and friendly mindset in students grants the school year a smooth start and sets the tone for the rest of the year.”

The Middle School Kindness Challenge is a program from Stand for Children, an education advocacy non-profit group. There were nearly 600 schools that registered in the 2018 fall MSKC. As a finalist, Crispell receives $1,000 in Donors Choose Credits which can be used for materials to continue their commitment to kindness work.

“Fostering kindness is critical for developing a school climate that is positive,” said Crispell’s Kindness Captain Melissa Meere. “Students need to feel safe in their learning environment. By teaching kindness, students can develop close relationships with their peers and feel confident in their learning.”

Pine Bush Central School District
State Route 302, Pine Bush, NY 12566
Phone: (845) 744-2031
Fax: (845) 744-6189
Tim O. Mains
Superintendent of Schools
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