A Random Act of Kindness…

        So over the past two weeks we’ve rolled out an initiative with our students called, Paying It Forward. Essentially, we’ve challenged every one of our kids to not only keep an eye out for random acts of kindness, but to specifically celebrate them as well…and to then pay those random act of kindness forward with a good deed of their own. We’ve supplied beautiful strips of coloured paper to each grade level and mentor teacher throughout the divisions (as well as a few sharpie markers), and we’ve asked students and teachers alike to write down their celebrations so we can hang them on our rainbow trees…tress that we’ve purposefully earmarked around the campus that will serve as symbols of what we value as a community, and as daily reminders of what’s truly important in our lives and in education.
        This initiative has been met with tremendous enthusiasm as you can imagine, and we’ve already hung our first round of celebrations. In my opinion, there’s not much in our lives as educators that is more important than developing a culture of kindness and celebration with our students, and to specifically teach and model how impactful we can be in the lives of others…even with the smallest act of generosity, or caring, or compassion, or kindness, we can change a person’s day for the better, and if we string enough of these acts together, we can begin changing lives. The amazing thing about schools is that these random acts of kindness are happening everyday and all around because that’s the beauty of children…we’re just making a specific attempt to capture these, and to make them visible for all to see…and I couldn’t be more excited!
        Some of you might remember that I wrote a post a couple of years ago titled, “Pay It Forward”, and it encouraged everyone to reach out and specifically thank the people in their lives that have made a positive difference in shaping who they are, and who they’ve become. We can sometimes go days and months and years without thinking about the inspirations in our lives who have helped us along the way…it could have been a parent, a long time friend, a teacher, a colleague, or simply an acquaintance who you hardly know who has impacted your life in a meaningful way. Not only is it important to think about these change agents, it’s even more important in my opinion, to search them out and to thank them specifically. I can guarantee that your simple little message will change their day for the better…it might even change their life or career…it doesn’t take much to change someone’s life for the better as you all know, and as a friend of mine likes to say, “I can live off of a single compliment for a month!”.
        I’m imploring you all this week to take ten minutes out of your busy lives, and as a specific exercise think about the people who deserve to hear from you…then take two minutes and write to them specifically…or call them…or walk up to them in person and say what you need to say. It’s a random act of kindness that they won’t expect, and one that will solicit a hug, or a smile, or maybe even a tear…ask them then to pay it forward and to do the same for someone that they know…and if you’re fortunate, it might just be you!
        You see, as educators we have such an opportunity to model the things that are truly important in this life, and being kind is at the top of the list. More importantly than teaching content, or organization, or study habits to our kids, is the specific act of teaching kindness, and compassion, and empathy, and how to be a good person who looks out for others and has a humble and caring nature. These skills will go a lot further down the road, and if we can get our students to graduate from our schools with these life skills firmly embedded in who they are as young adults, then we truly win as a global community.
        Let’s lead the charge over the next few months and bring this initiative to life, and make those rainbow trees explode into things of beauty, and symbols of what we value and stand for as a community. Pay it forward everyone, and challenge yourselves to dish out at least one or two random acts of kindness each and every day…together we’ll watch this initiative spread throughout our student body and we’ll share in the smiles that will undoubtedly take over our days. Also, when you have a few minutes this week, watch the videos that I’ve included below…show one or two of them to your kids as well…they will help to jump start your week, and put you in the right frame of mind. Have a fantastic week everyone and remember to be great for our students and pay it forward with each other…this coming week might just be the best one of the year!
Quote of the Week….
Three things in human life are important: the first is to be kind; the second is to be kind; and the third is to be kind – Henry James
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About Daniel Kerr

Dan Kerr is now Lower School Director at the American School of Paris. He previously served as Intermediate Division Principal at Academia Cotopaxi American International School in Quito, Ecuador, and prior to that was the Middle School Principal at SCIS in Shanghai, China. Dan has also worked at JIS in Jakarta, Indonesia and he began his International career in Abu Dhabi. Dan is thrilled to be joining the ASP family and will be accompanied by his wife, Jocelyn, who will be working as a counselor, and his two children, Max and Gabby. 
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