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Hayfield Community Schools 1 of 17 districts nationwide recognized for kindness initiative

If people were searching for one of the kindest school districts in the country to send their kids, it very well maybe Hayfield Community Schools. There aren’t too many school districts that greet their students coming off the buses by having them enter through a kindness tunnel formed by teachers and community members.

Wearing brightly-colored Kindness shirts, teachers and the children kicked-off their second annual Kindness Week earlier this month. During that time, Hayfield Elementary School students learn and explore what it means to be kind through the kindness initiative that was started last year by kindergarten teacher Nikki Smith.

By learning and doing, the students could see some benefits by participating in a week-long lesson and celebration of being kind.

Teachers and students create a kindness sign at Hayfield Schools. Photo provided

“Studies have indicated that promoting kindness in youth promotes self-confidence, optimism, leadership and increased happiness,” Smith said in an email.”Our quote this year is ‘In a world where you can be anything, be kind. We had such a great time spreading kindness in our school and community that we decided to continue it. This year we took it up a notch.”

Each day was celebrated with a themed-spirit day, whether it was with crazy hair or wearing professional outfits since it was “their job to be kind.” There were challenge sheets handed out to each student, and each child was tasked with trying to complete each square that had a designated act of kindness such as “doing chores without asking” or “creating their own act of kindness.”

There were also different grades assigned to high-five their fellow classmates when leaving school for the day. There were kindness quotes that were read over the announcements each day and students created bulletin boards and asphalt/cement drawings with kind words and thoughts. Smith said that each grade level needed to think of a way to inspire others through kindness challenges, whether it meant door decorating, making a kindness video or spreading cheer to community members.

Hayfield staff and students form a kindness tunnel for other students to walk through. Photo proivded

This year’s Kindness Week was also one that was extra special as the staff and students filmed and edited a video that was sent to the nonprofit organization Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project. Jordyn is an 18-year-old girl on the autism spectrum whose family started a summer project for her to learn job skills and to spread the message of being kind to everyone.

As a result, Hayfield Elementary School was one of 17 schools in the country to receive a large banner from Jordyn’s Summer Shirt Project that now hangs in the cafeteria. The banner says “Be the ‘I’ in Kind” and students from both the elementary and high school are encouraged to take pictures with the banner and to share them using hashtags #bekindtoeveryone, #summershirtproject and #worldkindnessday.

These acts of kindness seemed to have had a positive impact on staff and students, and it’s anticipated that Hayfield plans to continue Kindness Week each year, said Principal Jeff Snider, adding that “it was a great week for our kiddos and there was a lot of kindness spread throughout the school.”