Gov. Mary Fallin has proclaimed this “Classroom Kindness Week in Oklahoma” in conjunction with World Kindness Week, which began Monday and lasts until Friday.
To observe and celebrate Classroom Kindness Week, more than 1,300 Oklahoma teachers received gifts and classroom supplies from a new nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing gratitude and kindness in classrooms across the country.
The Be Kind People Project this week will bring recognition and appreciation to deserving teachers in 30 Oklahoma City and Tulsa schools. Several of the schools will also be treated to a Cool 2B Kind assembly, which features a crew of dynamic young performers from EPIK Dance Company who use urban and classical dance styles, slam poetry and audience participation to inspire kids not only to give their teachers a big “thank you,” but also to teach kids new relationship and kindness skills.
“I really believe in the importance teachers have as the fiber of the community,” said Marcia Meyer, founder of The Be Kind People Project. She started the project a year ago in Phoenix because she saw a great need in the country to give teachers more appreciation for their hard work.
“Kids may not stop and think of their teachers as someone who is there every day who they can depend on who really makes a difference,” Meyer said. She said teaching can be a thankless job and she hopes to change that.
After one year, the project has expanded to 14 markets across the country.
Meyer said Oklahoma was recommended as a location for the Project by Teach for America, an organization that works to close the education gap for children in low-income communities. The schools have Teach for America teachers who are hired by the organization to teach at schools that serve high populations of at-risk kids.
Gifts were delivered last week to teachers at the 30 Oklahoma schools included in the project. About 1,344 Oklahoma teachers received tokens of appreciation such as sport watches with the phrase “Be Kind” to remind them that “Every minute counts.”
The teachers also received Classroom Kindness Kits with materials for the teachers to use to promote kindness. The kits also include entry information for the project's annual national creative essay contest, which launches Monday.
The essay contest is called “How a Minute of Kindness Can Change a Day.” Students in grades kindergarten through 8 can submit original essays describing how kindness impacts their lives in the classroom, at home, with friends and in the community.
The Be Kind People Program is not an anti-bullying campaign, Meyer said, but she thinks that if kids followed the project's “Be Kind Pledge,” instances of bullying would be drastically reduced.
“We know that we help to offset negative behavior issues in schools,” Meyer said. “The minute that happens, kids treat each other with more consideration, encouragement, respect, honesty, support. We know that the minute the classroom changes, the teachers' jobs become easier.”
For more information about The Be Kind People Project or the essay contest, go online to www.thebekindpeopleproject.org.