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Patriot Perspective: Be the Nice kid

"Some kids will be smarter than you, some kids have cooler clothes than you, some kids are better at sports than you. It doesn't matter. You have your thing too. Be the kid who can get along. Be the kid who is generous. Be the kid the kid who is happy for other people. Be the kid who does the right thing. Be the nice kid" (Bryan Stavnak).

This is a powerful message about embracing and celebrating differences which seems timely in regards to recent events. Parents often ask what we each can do right here, right now to make our world and schools safer. We can't solve the nation's issues quickly, but one person can make a difference here and now.

"Strong, loving and caring human relationships cost nothing yet are powerful in the fight against school violence. We need to continue to keep our kids connected at home and in school" (Mark Mischke, BHS Principal).

So how do we build meaningful connections with our students at school? We build community in our classrooms. We greet them, talk with them, get to know them and have classroom meetings. We ensure they know the expectations and then celebrate students who demonstrate Patriot pride positive choices with golden tickets redeemable in the school store. We have Wear-It Wednesdays with our blue shirts to show we all belong together. Our fourth-graders participate in the kindness retreat to extend their understanding and connections. Teachers work with students in small groups and individually to ensure they're learning and connect with students who are striving to do their best.

How to build meaningful connections at home? Connecting at home begins at a very young age. It's a family spending time having fun and/or working together. It also means setting boundaries and having expectations. Tuning into your child and developing an open line of communication with your child by talking about feelings and emotions and more importantly how to handle them. As a parent, connecting also means knowing what your students are watching on devices, who their friends are and actively monitoring activities. With young children, reading together is a powerful connection and valuable for their language development.

An article I read recently discussed the balance of kindness and assertion. The goal is for students to be kind, to accept others, embrace differences and care about each other. It's ensuring our children know what kindness is but also having connections at school and home so they are comfortable speaking up for themself and for others. This year at EV the vocabulary is we want students to be bucket-fillers and not bucket-dippers, and if they see something that isn't OK to tell an adult, to get help. We need children to be kind and treat each other well and yet if they see unkind or unsafe action to speak up. That happens when they have connections with adults they trust and know will assist when needed.

Families give children roots and the wings to fly. Schools, like Eagle View, support that foundation and reinforce the expectations of respect, responsibility and safety. Working together, let's make sure all of our children are rooted in kindness and connections.