Power of Nice

CTE Expands Kindness Initiative
Posted on 08/26/2020

A CTE-based Kindness Initiative is opening a new chapter this year that will help engage students and staff during both on-campus and remote learning.

This summer, Health Related Careers instructor Karen Murphy and CTE English teacher Nancy Pitman developed an online book study around “The Power of Nice.” The book shows how businesses, organizations and people have succeeded through cooperation and kindness rather than competition.

Building on that foundation, Murphy created a Google Classroom with readings, videos, activities, assessments and rubrics to help students develop social-emotional skills. The Classroom is available to any teacher who wants to use it and is modular and flexible, so classes can use the pieces of the curriculum that make sense for their course.

Murphy called kindness “a lost art” and something that is easy to overlook despite its critical role in creating positive learning and working environments.

compliment card

“In healthcare, kindness is an essential practice,” she said. “I believe kindness should be taught and nurtured.”

Whether or not classes use the book study initiative, they will all be invited to participate in the Compliment Mail program, which will have a remote learning component this year to include all students. Students are encouraged to recognize others for their talents, their support of their peers, or simple random acts of kindness and drop their recognition cards into an online dropbox with their teachers or into the Compliment Box in the Rossetti Courtyard. The Foundations of CTE class is constructing the box.

In addition to the notes, teachers will be distributing Kindness Awards and Kind Bars to recognize positive behavior.

captain niceThe Kindness Initiative grew out of Murphy’s portrayal several years ago as Captain Nice, a costumed superhero who secretly left kind notes and performed kind acts for her colleagues. The following year, she passed the role on to some of her students, who launched the Compliment Mail idea. Each Friday, they dressed up as Captain Nice and delivered the mail to students and staff around campus. The initiative has grown each year, incorporating suicide prevention, bullying awareness and other relevant social-emotional issues for teens.

This year, instead of a campus-wide Suicide Prevention and Awareness event in September, she created another online classroom called Start With Hello, based on an initiative created by the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation. It addresses teen suicide, social isolation, and how to help those need. Again, teachers can use parts of the program as needed, and Murphy has given teachers silicone bracelets and temporary tattoos to distribute.

“I want the students to see and feel the benefits of kindness, and I want them to share kindness and become a ripple that continues to expand,” Murphy said. “Even a smile and a "You okay?" may provide hope or happiness to a student that is suffering.”