Choosing Kindness: Jefferson Elementary School Sixth Graders Earn Recognition in Classroom Kindness Challenge

Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert
Margaret Hurlbert works as the Editor of Discover Muscatine Newspaper.

Muscatine Living

Children have an amazing capacity for kindness. As a sixth-grade teacher at Jefferson Elementary School, Stacy Beatty works with her class every day to develop their social skills and kindness to create a safe space where they can learn and flourish. When she heard about the WQAD (a TV news station based in Moline, Illinois) and RIA Credit Union Classroom Kindness Challenge, she knew it presented a wonderful opportunity to help her students continue to grow and to realize the strength of their own kindness. Now, the class has completed the challenge and earned recognition as the contest’s first winner, giving them a shot at a $500 prize.

When Beatty first learned about the challenge (which consists of completing twelve different kind activities) she asked her class to consider participating. Their response impressed her. “When I told them about the challenge and asked if they wanted to participate, they were all in favor. They thought it sounded like a fun way to be role models for the younger grades and remind ourselves to intentionally be kind every day,” she recalls.

After accepting the challenge, the group set to work completing each of the activities. After holding class discussions about the importance of kindness and how to prevent bullying, smiling at strangers, remembering to say thank you, and finding ways to highlight their classmates’ strengths, the students completed all twelve parts of the challenge.

With their kindness chart complete, Beatty felt her students did a remarkable job demonstrating their kindness and dedication. “I am very proud of them for committing to the activities,” she said. “We talked about how some of the challenges were harder than others. They struggled the most with finding three strengths of their own. That was frustrating for me. They are wonderful young people with a lot to offer our school and community. This challenge helped them realize that little things like saying hello and smiling are important, too.”

Beatty’s students shared her pride in their accomplishments. As one of her students, Jaylin, put it, “I feel proud that we were the first to win the kindness challenge. It seems more special that we did it first so early in the year.”

On Friday, October 4th, WQAD and RIA Credit Union honored Beatty’s class by visiting them and giving them a tour of the station’s storm chasing vehicle, the Beast. By winning this portion of the contest, Beatty’s class automatically earned entry into the challenge’s final round, in which they will compete with five other classrooms for the $500 grand prize, awarded on World Kindness Day, November 13th.

So far, Beatty and her class have not decided what they will do if they win the grand prize, though they have contemplated using it for everything from making improvements to their classroom to donating it to the Muscatine Center for Social Action (MCSA). For now, though, just knowing they have helped spread kindness in their school and community has proven reward enough. As another student, Meli summed it up, “This world needs more kindness in it. A challenge is all it takes to make a little more kindness happen.”

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