You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

In Deltona, Pride Elementary students spread kindness to the world

The Daytona Beach News-Journal logo The Daytona Beach News-Journal 10/25/2019 By Cassidy Alexander, The Daytona Beach News-Journal
a group of people posing for a photo: The Kindness Squad was recently featured in Time Magazine for Kids. Their teacher Joanne Miller said teaching kindness is a proactive measure to take against bullying. [Photo provided/Joanne Miller] © Photo provided/Joanne Miller/The Daytona Beach News-Journal/TNS The Kindness Squad was recently featured in Time Magazine for Kids. Their teacher Joanne Miller said teaching kindness is a proactive measure to take against bullying. [Photo provided/Joanne Miller]

DELTONA — Friday mornings at Pride Elementary School mean one thing: greetings from the Kindness Squad.

About 20 of the Pride Elementary fourth-graders, plus anyone else who wants to join, line up along the curb and welcome students who are getting dropped off at school. There's music and mini pompoms. When parents honk, they cheer. When students walk into the school with bleary eyes, they remind them to have a good Friday.

In return, they get smiles — and the confidence that the kindness they're spreading through the school will eventually make its way throughout the entire world. 

a young boy standing next to a child: A group of boys in the Kindness Squad at Pride Elementary wait for more students to arrive at school. Greeting students on Fridays is only part of what they do to spread kindness throughout their school -- and the world. [News-Journal/Cassidy Alexander]

A group of boys in the Kindness Squad at Pride Elementary wait for more students to arrive at school. Greeting students on Fridays is only part of what they do to spread kindness throughout their school -- and the world. [News-Journal/Cassidy Alexander]
© News-Journal/Cassidy Alexander/The Daytona Beach News-Journal/TNS

"It's pretty easy to be kind," explained 9-year-old Luis Toro. "Just a small thing that's kind could spread all around the world. 

Impacting the entire world may seem like a lofty goal, but the class is well on its way. Miller's class, which is the second to participate in Kindness Squad, was just featured on the cover of the Time for Kids magazine. She promotes what they do on her Instagram page (@headoverheelsforteaching) with more than 150,000 followers, and said she gets messages from people all over the world who are inspired to work on kindness themselves — including from one retired Volusia County deputy who said kindness could have saved a lot of people he met over his career.

View this post on Instagram

He touched on one of the things Miller likes the most about her initiative: it's a proactive step to cut out bullying before it begins. 

In an era where schools are working to offer more mental health services and teachers are trying to introduce social and emotional learning strategies back into the school day, could it be so simple as smiling and telling someone to have a good day? Miller, who's been a teacher for 24 years, thinks so.

[READ MORE: Florida education officials eye school safety, mental health]

"Kids aren't born with kindness," she said. "You have to teach it."

But of course that means it touches almost every aspect of her students' day: they learned how to have civil conversations; they practice random acts of kindness within their classroom; and they nominate each other for recognition for the things that they're doing. They frequently pull "positivity pranks" where they give someone a compliment or a piece of candy. And later in the year, they'll take their kindness into the community and visit a nursing home in the area. One student, Hayden Barlow, is taking kindness outside of class: she said on her birthday she plans to ask for items that can be donated to help people who are homeless instead of things that she wants for herself.

It's a culture they hope will continue to seep into more and more peoples' lives. And if you think about it, what's the alternative?

"Without the world being kind," said 9-year-old Kaylah Narvaez, "we would just be mean people."

©2019 The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla.

Visit The News-Journal, Daytona Beach, Fla. at www.news-journalonline.com

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

AdChoices
AdChoices

More From The Daytona Beach News-Journal

The Daytona Beach News-Journal
The Daytona Beach News-Journal
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon