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John G. Carlisle’s Cubs Kindness Club matters as students practice kindness, create positive culture

Covington Partners

When you think of school, you think of reading, math, science, and social studies. While academics play a large role in the development of youth, the teaching and modeling does not stop there.

What about the ability to communicate your feelings? To truly listen to others? To have a sense of self-discipline and understand other points of view you may not agree with? To empathize with a diverse population? Social-emotional skills are often overlooked, but they can all be linked to kindness (and academic improvement).

Illustration provided/Covington Partners

According to CASEL (the Collaborative for Academic and Social and Emotional Learning) study, 93% of teachers believe it is important to teach SEL (social-emotional learning), and teachers who included SEL programs in their instruction saw an 11-17% increase in the academic scores of their students.

This is how the Cubs Kindness Club was born at the John G. Carlisle Elementary School Community Learning Center.

Karen Furnish, a fourth grade teacher at JGC and teacher involved in the afterschool program, built the foundation of the club with fourth-grade students before expanding to the other grade levels. Furnish believes that “teaching kindness is the key to developing a positive and healthy culture within (John G. Carlisle Elementary School) that will carry into the community.”

Since the establishment of the club, Furnish has witnessed students grow into role models. In fact, she says that the club has helped typically introverted students, including many of the English Learners (EL), become more outgoing and step into leadership roles.

The club is a pro-social approach to teaching students the skills needed to better communicate and collaborate, advocate for themselves, and actively call out positive behavior and actions. Students involved in Cubs Kindness Club have their own kindness badge that they wear throughout the day and “kind” t-shirts that recognize them as a current member of the club. The students meet weekly after school to log the acts of kindness they have passed on to peers, staff, and their community. The students also brainstorm and plan an activity that will promote kindness in the school building each week.

Club members are making a difference in school by promoting what it means to show kindness. It may be something as simple as telling a peer they are doing a great job in the classroom or using positive words when a peer is having a bad day. No matter the circumstance, it shows that a little bit of kindness can go a long way.

“Teaching the students what it means to be kind and have them lead by example is the key to establishing a loving, caring culture,” says Furnish.
The students are currently gearing up for Random Acts of Kindness Day on February 17. If you are looking for ways to show random acts of kindness on this day (or any other day), here are a few ways you can be an honorary member of the Cubs Kindness Club:

• 1 Buy coffee for the person behind you in line.
• 2 Post inspirational sticky notes around your neighborhood, office, school, etc.
• 3 Let someone go in front of you in line who only has a few items.
• 4 Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
• 5 Write a kind message on your mirror with a dry erase marker for yourself, your significant other, or a family member.
• 6 Send a gratitude email to a coworker who deserves more recognition.
• 7 Practice self-kindness and spend 30 minutes doing something you love today.
• 8 While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
• 9 Leave a kind server the biggest tip you can afford.
•10 Email or write to a former teacher who made a difference in your life.

Covington Partners is a nonprofit working to bring together key community stakeholders including students, families, partner organizations, the Covington Independent Public School District, funders, staff, board members, mentors, and volunteers to all work towards the goal of helping the youth of Covington achieve success in every phase of their life.

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