Spreading kindness at Cushman
At the Cushman School, February is all about kindness. All month, the school’s preschoolers and kindergarteners are sharing smiles and kindness at school, at home, and in the community.
Throughout the month, students have been working on “Kindness Checklists” in their classrooms and at home, which include acts of kindness like high fives, inviting a new friend to play, lending someone a pencil, and calling grandparents.
The preschool classes began a kindness project of their own: making special deliveries to different organizations in the community of “Cushman Spreads Kindness and Hugs” posters and jars of hugs (Hershey Kisses).
Nathan Gracia and Scott Ferguson, both of Julie Stenning’s class, walked over to Southworth Library with Principal Melissa McHenry and assistant teacher Diane Mendes to surprise the librarian Brian Walsh in the Children’s Room.
Throughout the month, preschoolers will be surprising organizations around town with kindness.
McHenry said that the month was inspired by The Great Kindness Challenge, which is a week-long program that Cushman staff decided to expand to a month. To kick off the program, McHenry and social worker Anne Mueller read a story to each class called “A Little Bit of Kindness.”
Then, the whole class works together on acts of kindness. When the students in the class complete the checklist, they get to celebrate their accomplishment by decorating a big paper heart to hang on the door to the classroom.
“We challenge them even further by giving them a family edition of the checklist that they can take home to their families and work on some random acts of kindness at home, in their neighborhood,” McHenry said.
On Friday, Feb. 15, two students celebrated finishing the family checklist by hanging hearts with their names on Cushman School’s Tree of Kindness. Ariane Santos, a kindergartener, said that one of her acts of kindness was learning how to say thank you in Portuguese (obrigado). She and her family also went on a family walk.
Andrew Ferreira, a preschooler, was practicing holding doors open for people.
“But it was hard sometimes,” Andrew said. “Some doors were really hard. The door that I did was really hard.”
Andrew also entertained his sister with a happy dance.
The students get a chance to share kindness between grades, too, as the preschoolers and kindergarteners buddy up for activities like reading and giving each other valentines. After February vacation, the whole program will culminate with a “Kindness Fun Zone” in the gym.
“The message that we sent to the staff and to the students was that we wanted to spread this kindness beyond Cushman’s walls and spread it throughout the town of Dartmouth,” McHenry said. So far, the students have spread the message to the library and Naughty Dawgs.
“That comes from a book that we read to them called ‘One Kind Deed,’” McHenry said. “It’s a story about a little boy who made a pie for a neighbor who was feeling sad, and then that neighbor in return did another kind deed to someone else in the neighborhood, and the kind deeds spread around the neighborhood.”
The preschoolers hope that the same thing can happen in town.
“So we’re telling them that maybe if we start spreading kindness around Dartmouth that will keep moving along,” McHenry said.