An excessively shy little girl at Our Lady of Hope spent the last school year “Making herself as invisible as possible,” says her 7th grade teacher, Dena Campbell. She wouldn’t make eye contact. She wouldn’t talk to other students. At lunch she stayed in the classroom by herself. That same little girl is now planning her Quinceañera with new friends. Kindness made the difference. Kindness encouraged a timid young girl to lift her gaze.
Though everyone in her class recognized her shyness, after a few weeks of the school’s Kindness Campaign, one young boy—instead of discounting her—said, “We don’t know what she’s going through.” Empathy changed him from looking the other way to looking with more sympathy at his classmate.
The school’s campaign was designed around a curriculum based on the book and movie, Wonder. Originally planned for religion-studies students, the school ultimately decided to share the learnings school-wide, encouraging everyone to take a deeper look at what it means to be kind, to live with more understanding for each other’s situation.
Every morning, principal Mary Delac, led the entire school in a morning prayer, choosing a different emotion or life-challenge to reflect upon—feeling unloved, being incarcerated, having drug addiction problems. The students then shared a moment of silence as they thought about situations others (perhaps themselves) were living through. “I realized that life is bigger than me,” one boy shared with his teacher.
It was a good lesson for grade school students to learn. It’s a good lesson for all of us to learn from them.