Kindness Week continues at Jerabek
After four years of bringing students together to preach the importance of kindness at Jerabek Elementary School, the Kindness Committee is getting creative as they move their efforts into the virtual sphere.
The committee – co-chaired by Jerabek parent volunteers Laura Stephens, Kim Nocella and Alexis Spagopolis as part of the Family Faculty Organization – focuses on infusing the values of kindness, inclusion and empowerment on campus. Their keynote effort, called Kindness Week, occurs three times a year and will be returning to campus from Oct. 5 to 9.
This year’s version will include daily activities, all of which will occur online, focused on issues such as cyberbullying, allyship and how to stay inspired during tough times. This includes workshops for staff and students as well as inspirational speakers.
Stephens said the movement’s core mantra has three elements: “Be respectful, be responsible, be kind.”
The efforts are also driven by the work of about 20 fourth and fifth grade student leaders who lead conversations among their fellow students about how to embrace the core mantra in all aspects of their lives.
Kindness Week started about four years ago amid what Stephens described as heavy times to be a student on campus.
“It was around the time when tough stuff was happening in the world like school shootings and stuff like that, and we really wanted to give the kids a voice of their own and feel empowered and know that they can make a positive impact in the world,” she said.
The effort has since grown into a massive success, even establishing a partnership with the Anti-Defamation League last year. Since then, all public schools in Scripps Ranch have been designated as official No Place for Hate campuses.
“That just gave a little bit more depth and partnership to our activities,” Stephens said. “We had more resources because the (Anti-Defamation League) has a great book, resources and YouTube videos.”
Even amid the shift to a virtual movement, the committee’s goals have expanded with the development of a new Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee. The group will work to make recommendations to the Jerabek school administration on how to weave inclusivity more deeply into the campus culture.
With all these efforts combined, Stephens said, Jerabek parents and students have noticed a real difference in attitudes on campus. This includes Kindness Week topics making it back to students’ homes.
“I’ve heard from people where their kid came home and shared a conversation they had in the classroom that they shared around the dining room table, and that gave them the opportunity to have a talk as a family,” Stephens said.