Stefany Bibb has made the elementary school John F. Kennedy Montessori her home for over twenty years. She’s invested a greater part of that time as a teacher assistant, but in the wake of getting certified to be a teacher herself, Bibb has now taught her own homeroom for the last two years.
Bibb additionally drives the school’s ‘Kindness Crew.’ “Listening to students talk about it and seeing them interact with each other, it’s beyond what I thought,” she said. The Kindness Crews are composed of students in every grade. By May, even the tiny tots of kindergarten will get a chance to join it after watching the more established children set the model earlier in the school year.
“It feels good,” Bibb said. “It physically feels good to be kind.”
Students who’re in the Kindness Crew frequently hold the door as a courtesy to others, welcome other students and instructors every morning with banners that have uplifting messages, help other students to remember to be kind, and center around being respectful and helpful. The examples they are giving and are given are also having another benefit. The thoughtful gestures are being transferred over to their home life as well.
A few students expressed how being kind to others is impacting them as well.
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“You can also spread kindness to your teacher or your loved one when you’re not even at school,” said Aniyah Cox, a fourth-grader who’s part of the Kindness Crew.
“My favorite act of kindness is being able to hold the door for other people, because it shows that you care about them,” said John Johnson, a fifth-grader on the Kindness Crew.
While another student, Aniyah said giving hugs was her favorite act of kindness.
“I like to make people smile and I like to make them smile because it lights up my world and I know it makes them feel warm inside, too,” she said.
Among others who spoke out about how the acts of kindness are enjoyable, several other students recently painted rocks with messages of generosity as a feature of their work with the Kindness Crew. During spring break, Bibb made it the highlight to invest the time at the school making a special garden for these stones outside the building.
The Kindness Rock Garden is arranged with rainbow-shaded tires for resting on and pinwheels that blow in the breeze. It’s loaded with painted stones of many sizes and shapes, many of them with empowering messages or creative designs.
Aniyah picked a stone from the garden Monday that had a frog painted on it.
“It’s a little frog right here,” she said. “He looks really cute, and I see a little fly up here. And it makes me feel happy because I really like frogs.”
Students can even keep the stones with them for up to one week prior to returning them to the garden, and if a student wants to keep them for more time, they get to paint another stone to replace the one they took.
“You can also pass your rock down to your friends so you can make them feel happy,” Aniyah said.
The garden is just another way the Kindness Crew can assist with putting smiles on other people’s faces, and Bibb is hopeful the students can continue to grow a strong foundation of kindness that’s been sprouted at Kennedy Montessori.
“Nothing you’ve heard from any of the students, nothing they do, is because of me,” Bibb said. “I just gave them the outlet to do what they naturally do. They’re naturally kind. There’s nothing I can take credit for for how amazing they are and the kindness they spread. I’m just like, Here, do what you do.”