Scatter Kindness

Fifth-graders at Central Grade School are working on Scatter Kindness projects. Sarah Hirtzel (left) and Morgan Cekander make a fleece blanket to be donated to Crisis Nursery in Effingham.

News Report Staff

Central School teacher Kristyn Bowman is on a mission — to teach her students the power of kindness.

Sure, the fifth-grade teacher makes certain her students are working hard on the core subjects in the curriculum; however, she is hoping her students take something else away from their time in her class.

“With so much negativity, I asked myself, ‘What can I do?’” said Bowman. “Our students are the future, and already, they have the power to make a difference. So, I’ve made it my goal to teach kindness.”

Throughout the school year, students in Bowman’s homeroom focus on a variety of community projects, with this year’s class hoping to “Scatter Kindness” through a variety of acts.

Currently, students are working on making knot-tie fleece blankets, which they will donate to Crisis Nursery in Effingham.

“It is cool how we are spreading kindness and doing what is right,” said Logan Jones, a fifth-grader in Bowman’s class. “It is just nice to do things for people who don’t have stuff.”

Jones said he is learning about how he can help others in the community, and even though making blankets can be tricky, it is worth it to be kind.

“It is hard, but at the end, it is all worth it to make those kids happy,” said Jones. “It is the right thing to do, and it is nice for those kids because they may not have as much stuff as we do.”

Fifth-grader Jessica Larsen agreed, saying the projects they do in class do make a difference.

“I think this is a good project because we can help out our community and do things that maybe other people won’t,” said Larsen. “It makes me happy that we can help out.”

Larsen said she would encourage other students to get involved.

“I would encourage them to start off with something small, but then you could try something bigger,” she said.

These are just the messages that Bowman had hoped her students would spread.

“I want the kids to see what kindness looks like and what it feels like to be kind,” said Bowman. “It is important for them to see it, act on it and reach out in ways they may not have the opportunity to otherwise.”

Although Bowman has done kindness projects in the past, this year she is taking it to the next level with her “Scatter Kindness” project, which also will include different projects throughout the year.

“I wanted to take it up a notch this year and create a whole compassion unit where we find different ways to reach out in the community,” she said. “I really want kids to understand that they can make a difference, and they are seeing that they are making a difference.”

One of the other projects will be for students to mail letters to one school in each of the other states, asking them to create a kindness project and to pass the word along.

“Every project we do this year has a paper dandelion seed attached, encouraging others to scatter kindness,” said Bowman. “We are sending the copies of our dandelion seed to the other schools and asking them to help us scatter kindness in their communities.”

Bowman said she already can see the effects that the kindness projects have had on her students.

“They are kinder to each other, and they find ways to help classmates and other students,” she said.

She added her students also are coming up with their own ideas for kindness projects and sharing them with the class.

“What I love the most is that they are coming to the classroom with new ideas and suggestions for our projects. They have such huge hearts,” said Bowman. “It warms my heart to hear them talk about it and to see how important it is to them.

“It makes me feel good that they are being sent out into the world wanting to help,” she added.