Back to school in the strangest of times

by Brooke Jones, Vice President
Random Acts of Kindness Foundation

It’s “back to school” time… but, what a strange time it is. Every time I see the words “rise by lifting others”, I think of educators. That’s what educators do – they lift others; in turn they become better as teachers and as human beings. And, they do it in the most challenging and extreme circumstances.. as evidenced by the last year. I know the phrase is overused, but we at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation truly believe educators (and all school staff) are heroes. You sacrifice so much for the good of your students and the promise of a brighter future for them and this world. If that isn’t a hero, I don’t know what is.

We have been working this summer to help make your jobs easier when it comes to implementing social emotional learning in your classrooms. In addition to Kindness in the Classroom, our CASEL-approved K-8 curriculum, we are extremely proud to introduce you to our New High School Curriculum. The aim of this course is to give students an opportunity to gather new and deeper insights about respect, caring, integrity, inclusiveness, and courage and to begin to apply them in new and more meaningful ways. They will better identify how our brains and bodies respond to kindness, helping them recognize not only the social but also the physical response we have when we engage in kind, caring behavior. Students will examine these concepts through socio-cultural, scientific, literary, and historical lenses, giving them better context on a larger cultural scale. Finally, they will develop and deploy a service project, which will allow them to earn up to 50 hours of volunteer service towards graduation requirements.

Our friends at Community Matters have a similar mission to equip and empower students and adults to create schools and communities that are safe, welcoming and inclusive. Their Safe School Ambassadors program (along with so many other resources they offer) creates  a wonderful way for students to improve school climate and positively impact others around the crisis of bullying in schools.

In all of our work at The Random Acts of Kindness Foundation and Community Matters we want to remind all of you heroes out there that the most important thing you can be doing right now is taking care of yourself. Self-care is incredibly important. Make sure you’re reminding yourself that you are doing the best you can. You are doing a great job.

We are wishing you the best year ever of teaching. We hope you use these strange circumstances to find new and amazing ways to teach, learn and connect. We are here to support you however we can.

Brooke wants to live in a world where people choose kindness over violence, compassion over cruelty, and action over indifference. She studied in Paris and holds a degree in art history. She also holds certifications in Applied Positive Psychology and Brene Brown’s work, The Daring Way. She delivered a TEDx talk, “Nourishment of the Soul” in 2017 where she shared her personal journey with mental illness. Outside of her time creating written content for the Foundation, she enjoys fiber crafting, creative writing and helping spread kindness in her local community with her teenage daughter. Brooke is in the process of writing a book for parents to help support them in creating and maintaining healthy and fulfilling relationships with their children.