Can practicing kindness build better character? The leaders at Triumph Academy, a Charter school in Monroe County, believe that a little kindness goes a long way to develop great kids that become good citizens. That is why they had their 725 K-8th grade students join a network of over 13 million students from over 24 thousand schools from around the world in the Great Kindness Challenge this past February. But Triumph Academy went a step further and expanded the challenge to cover the entire month.
The Great Lakes Kindness Challenge is a worldwide initiative that encourages kids to live their lives with "an abundance of joy and kindness." Students were sent home with a kindness checklist for students and their families to participate in during the next month. Items on the checklist included:
- Smiling at 25 people
- Complimenting five people
- Helping a younger student
- Picking up 10 pieces of trash on campus
- Sitting with a new group at lunch
When students completed a task, they received verification from their guardian that the activities were performed and submitted their checklist at the end of the month. Triumph Academy has a "house system", so the school leaders decided to further encourage student participation by creating a competition between the houses to see how many activities students could complete.
During the month, Triumph Academy also added their own program called "Be Kind First." This program asks students to distribute five "smile cards" to people throughout their community. Triumph Academy's contact information was printed on the card and the school asks that those who were touched by a Smile Card share their experience on social media. Triumph was overwhelmed by the response that their programs had received. Amy Tansel, principal at Triumph Academy, stated, "We received emails and calls from people all over the community."
Triumph Academy opened in 2004 and has built their curriculum on the pillars of moral focus, academic excellence, personal responsibility, and parental partnerships. At Triumph Academy, bullying is not tolerated, students are expected to be kind to others and demonstrate respect and courtesy at all times. They empower their students to take personal responsibility for their academic success and character development, helping them to build the grit and skills they will need to tackle any challenge with confidence.
The combination has proven successful for these Monroe County children.
Keep smiling Triumph Academy!