During a recent classroom visit, I was lucky to hear our teacher of English Learners, Mrs. Noon Kim, reading aloud from a Newberry Award-winning picture book entitled, Last Stop on Market Street (LaPeña & Robinson, 2015). Last Stop tells the story of a boy and his nana on a Sunday afternoon. The boy asks his nana many questions about why they don’t have certain things and why they are doing nice things for other people (such as going to help others after church). Although he pesters her, he also follows her lead, smiling and greeting others, and pitching in to assist people. Of course, he learns that kindness to others is a win-win situation for everyone. It is a touching book and is available in our school library.
This story illustrates a point I found recently in a more academic format. An article in the journal Educational Leadership (Goodwin, 2017) noted the differences between empathy (feeling what others feel) and compassion (becoming concerned for others’ well-being and wanting to help them, yet not necessarily mirroring their emotions). So, while connecting with the feelings of others is a step in the right direction, it is often the action that can make a bigger difference.
Acts of kindness abound in the Horace Mann community. I see students and adults do special things to improve the lives of others every single day. In this season of charity and gift-giving, this light of kindness at HMES burns even brighter. Thank you for modeling and encouraging generosity with goods, talent and time throughout this holiday season. As a result, our children are learning to be compassionate, which bring greater happiness to all!