28 Sep Going beyond a week of respect at Bryan Elementary

Every Thursday morning after the Pledge of Allegiance, student names are read through Richard H. Bryan Elementary School’s intercom. These students are singled out not because they must report to the principal’s office, but in recognition of a kind act they were caught performing.

Bryan Elementary School’s Thoughtful Thursdays program encourages more kindness at school, home and in the community, and highlights its incredible students for promoting a safe and respectful learning environment. Partnered with The Josh Stevens Foundation, the message is clear and printed on the t-shirts the staff and students are encouraged to wear every Thursday: “Be Kind.”

“We believe that if students are kind to each other, then kindness will grow,” said counselor Molly Teal. “This year, there’s been a huge push on anti-bullying messages and we believe that if you push kindness, then the bullying will diminish.”

With each recognition, Teal also writes each student’s name on a paper leaf and pastes it on a paper tree within the school’s lunchroom. As the year goes, the tree grows. A different color of leaves represents a different month. At the end of the month, every student that was caught performing a kind act is brought up in front of their grade’s student body and is cheered on during lunchtime. Each student then receives a certificate, a Be Kind bracelet and the write-up that was submitted for the kind act they committed. The program is so ingrained deeply in the school’s community that many parents show up during the recognition lunch to take pictures and cheer their child on.

“The students love it,” said Teal. “They can not wait to hear their name once they have been caught. They will tell their teachers right away to listen for their names.”

Teal has been the heart and spine of Bryan Elementary School’s Thoughtful Thursday program for eight years. She has seen the difference the program makes through the students’ interaction with each other and their responses to several projects. For instance, a recent request for Bryan Elementary School’s PTA’s yearbook cover called for art from the students. Without direction on a theme, all submissions contained some form of the “Be Kind” message. Teal plans to run the program at Bryan Elementary School for as long as she can and will do whatever it takes to support it.

“I believe any one can be kind. It crosses all barriers and that’s the beauty of it,” Teal said. “And it makes people happy!”