This year, the goal for second graders at John F. Kennedy Elementary School is to take the kindness rocks project that started at JFK and spread it into the larger community.
“Mrs. Olsen’s and Mrs. Gorey’s classes made kindness rocks and we’re looking for places to send them,” explained Brady, a student in Lynn Olsen’s class.
“We’re trying to get as many kindness rocks into the community as possible,” added his classmate, Sawyer. “We wrote letters to people who own places and we’re asking if they want a bowl of kindness rocks.”
One of the places students were eager to reach out to was Trader Joe’s in Danbury, Connecticut. Jack and Hunter wrote a letter to Karl Lueder, the manager of the store, and followed up with a phone call.
“We were thrilled to be involved,” Lueder told students during a visit to their classroom. He was accompanied by his daughter Megan, a 2014 Brewster graduate who put together a slideshow presentation for the class. “It takes a lot of courage, but that’s what you have to do,” he added, speaking directly to the two boys who reached out to him.
Students were bubbling with excitement about the visit and the fact that Lueder had their rocks displayed at his store. “We love them,” Lueder said. “All the people at work love the rocks. You did a great job. We wanted to come over and personally thank you and give you a little bit of insight into what Trader Joe’s does and what we hope to do when you come shopping with us.”
Lueder talked about the store, which many of the students were familiar with, explaining a little bit about how it works and how it’s laid out before talking about how Trader Joe’s takes civic responsibility seriously — just like the students do. Right now, he explained, they’re focusing on reducing their use of plastic.
The next thing students are working on is collaborating on a slideshow presentation about their project and presenting it to spread awareness about the work they have been doing. The kindness rocks project is just one example of how Brewster students are learning from the earliest grades to demonstrate civic responsibility in keeping with the district’s strategic coherence plan.
Many of the district’s Strategic Coherence Plan skills are in play with this project. The most obvious is civic responsibility. Students are working really hard to make the community a better place by spreading kindness near and far. But the other four skills are at play as well. Students are collaborating and using critical thinking to figure out the best places to reach out to, communicating with the businesses, adapting to any issues that come up, and persevering until their goals are accomplished.