Stefany Bibb believes that with kindness, attention, and care, love has the chance to grow — and spread.
Stefany is a teacher who has worked for John F. Kennedy Montessori Elementary School in Louisville, Kentucky for the past 20 years. In addition to teaching the basics, Stefany educates her young students on an important, yet often overlooked, life skill: Being kind.
Stefany started a club called the Kindness Crew, which is made up of students from all grade levels. They meet before the school day to set their goals and discuss how being kind makes them feel, and then they practice these skills throughout their day and beyond. Some of the things they do to show kindness to their fellow students and teachers include holding doors open, smiling at people, offering to help someone who is struggling, and giving hugs.
“It feels good,” Stefany explained. “It physically feels good to be kind.”
So far, the Kindness Crew has surpassed Stefany’s hopes for the club. Her students have taken the lessons to heart, and they’re modeling this kind of behavior both in school and at home.
“You can also spread (kindness) to your teacher or your loved one when you’re not even at school,” said Aniyah Cox, member of the Kindness Crew and current 4th grader. “I like to make people smile and I like to make them smile because it lights up my world and I know it makes them feel warm inside, too,” she added.
Over spring break, Stefany created a special rock garden on the school grounds. This colorful spot is a place for the Kindness Crew to gather and share. It also contains a bucket of colorful painted rocks, some adorned with positive messages of encouragement. These rocks were painted by students, and now they’re available for anyone who needs one.
Students are allowed to take a rock that they like or perhaps give it to a friend. They can keep them for one week before bringing it back to the garden, or they can keep the rock and replace it with another they’ve made. The whole goal is to make people smile through a small act of kindness, and it’s a concept children easily grasp.
“The best part about (being kind) is that it kind of comes back to you if they just say ‘thank you’ and the joy kind of returns,” said 5th grader Kim Le, who plans to start her own Kindness Crew when she moves on to middle school next year.
Stefany swears the success of her Kindness Crew is all down to the students’ natural tendency to be nice to others, yet her students say she’s been a huge influence on them.
“She’s just a wonderful person,” said Aniyah. “I’ve had her since I came here. She’s made me feel like I belong in this school. She really cares about me, and that’s why I love her so much.”
Stefany says she hopes her garden will continue to grow with every new school year!
This is such a wonderful, physical way to show kindness and respect to others. We can only hope more schools follow this teacher’s lead and put an emphasis on kindness!
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