Making Today Count: A Heart of Giving
I was reminded today of the positive power of giving. At the drive-in window of a local Starbucks, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that my grande vanilla latte and hot chocolate drinks were fully paid for by an anonymous giver who had driven through the lane several cars ahead of me. The passengers in the two cars between the generous giver and I had their bills covered, with no expectation of any expression of gratitude. Spurned by intense feelings of personal gratitude, I decided to pay for the bills of the two cars that pulled in behind me at the window, with the same expectation for anonymity. My 12-year old son was quite enthralled by the whole activity, including the mindset for why a complete stranger would pay for everyone’s bill, and then have his mother follow suit. The whole activity caused an interesting conversation between my son and I about the concept of paying it forward, and why people would be motivated to do a good deed for others as a result of someone doing a good deed for them. After my son stopped trying to calculate how much money the original giver might have paid for everyone’s bill (drinks, bakery items, etc.), he began reflecting on the benefits of doing good deeds for other people, and how these actions could cause a positive chain reaction. Such generosity can be socially contagious, especially recognizing the impact of a single act of kindness among others. We talked about ideas for paying it forward at his school.
At Manheim Township, our schools are filled with examples of ways that students are focused on showing acts of kindness to others: buddy benches on our elementary playgrounds, the Kindness Rocks Project (https://www.thekindnessrocksproject.com/) at some of our elementary schools, the “Kindness Clubs”, the “Have You Filled A Bucket Today” project, and the many different community service projects our students perform weekly at various locations. At the secondary level, many of our students in clubs, performing arts, and athletics spend a meaningful amount of time giving back to the community in a variety of ways.
As we approach the holiday season, our students will continue to be quite active in serving their community. Just as paying it forward provides a strong feeling of generosity and giving, serving others through community service also benefits the students, our local community, and the larger community itself. Students grow individually as they become actively involved citizens, thereby, developing a sense of civic responsibility. We are proud that so many of our students volunteer their time and energy to making a positive impact in a world much larger than their own.
The mindset of giving to others is part of our continued focus on the development of the “whole child.” Educating students at Manheim Township involves building district-wide systems and programs that promote life long learning so they are healthy, safe, and engaged in their school and local communities. Through involvement in service activities, students apply their academic learning to the world around them, thus, developing social awareness and responsibility. Our students are tomorrow’s leaders, and their heart of giving and kindness to others gives me hope for a continued positive future.
An example of two district educators who work diligently to help build healthy, socially aware students, are our district Employees of the Month for November and December. Ms. Terri Sies, our Employee of the Month for November, is currently a para-educator in the Learning Support program at Neff Elementary School, and has worked in this capacity throughout the district in various programs, such as multiple disabilities, life skills, and learning support. She was nominated by her colleagues for ” taking the time to get to know each student on a personal level so she can incorporate their interests into their work.” They shared that Ms. Sies is “encouraging, yet has high expectations for behavior and achievement, and hold kids accountable … she is an amazing asset to our special education program, the teachers, and especially the students.”
The Employee of the Month for December, Ms. Megan Bingham, guidance counselor, was nominated by her colleagues at Schaeffer Elementary School for “upholding the vision and values of our district and our school.” They shared that “she knows all of the Schaeffer students and families really well and is willing to help anyone in need; she treats every child as if they were her own. Ms. Bingham is gentle, kind, and empathetic. Students are comfortable talking to her, and she is attentive their needs.” Even further, they noted, “her accessibility for meeting with students and classroom presence is greatly appreciated.”
May you have a peaceful, joyous holiday season and a new year filled with happiness!