Kindness Cultivator

Chapter 8 – Kate Lapetino

What sparked your kindness initiatives described in A Passion for Kindness?

Our kindness initiative actually had two fire starters. During conversations with the third grade teachers at the end of the last school year, they were making suggestions for how to plan our social-emotional lessons for the upcoming year. They were adamant that the upcoming fourth grade students were ready for us to challenge them to spread their kindness beyond the classroom. We were also inspired by a game I found at Target called Sneaky Cards: Play It Forward. The purpose of this game is to complete various missions of care, connection, and engagement with strangers, pass the card along, and use a QR code to track where the cards were shared. I loved this idea of tracking kindness and wanted to adapt it to our year of kindness. This is how I researched and found that no one was using the hashtag #fieldkindness. From this weekly challenge and a way to watch the spread of kindness, the larger kindness projects were born to keep up with the students’ enthusiasm and engagement.

What is an example of kindness you share with others?

A few years ago, I started doing random acts of kindness anonymously for staff at school. I was inspired by people posting ‘34 acts of kindness for their 34th birthday’ type stories. I decided that for Lent that year, I was going to do one kind act each day. I completed acts such as taping a bag of extra change to the pop machine with a note asking for people to take and leave their change. Other acts were things such as placing a candy bar in someone’s mailbox, encouraging notes left on others’ desks, and treats in the lounge. No one knew it was me, which made it really fun to listen and watch how people were reacting. At some point it became more than me and random acts of kindness were spreading from other people! Emails were being shared with the whole staff thanking “someone” for scraping the snow off of all the car windshields one afternoon as well as other kind gestures! It was such a fun and purposeful Lenten promise that year.

At the beginning of this school year, a colleague and I surprised the staff with a complete lounge makeover. We stayed late after school on a Friday and rearranged the room, organized, created new sharing spaces, cleaned, covered boards with bright fabric, covered open shelving with updated curtains, created a “staff brag board”, contained the workroom mess in cute containers, and hung over 15 framed positive quotes and images around the space. The staff returned on Monday with no idea about the updates, bright flowers on all of the tables and all, and were very encouraged and inspired! This was done on our own time, with our own funds, and full of love and kindness. Not only did it lift up the staff, but I had the opportunity to work closely with a new colleague and create a deeper more meaningful connection within the first few weeks of school- we all won!

What is an example of kindness you have received?

One story that sticks out is when my brother selflessly drove 2 hours to deliver a gift card to the store I was shopping in. Right after my mom picked my husband and me up from our honeymoon, we stopped at IKEA to purchase our dining room table (quality first home furniture). We lived almost an hour away from IKEA at the time and forgot our wedding gift cards for this big purchase. When we called my brother to check that the gift cards were sitting at home, he took it upon himself to drive them to the store for us. Without asking, my then 19 year old brother, dropped everything he was doing to deliver a gift card- WOW! This was unnecessary but greatly appreciated.

I also receive kindness through my husband staying up way too late to finish all of the laundry as a surprise, my children writing me post-it notes of encouragement and love, my teammate taking a stack of my papers to grade, a friend bringing me gum as we encourage each other to eat healthy, or my sister rearranging her schedule to eat dinner with me. Just like these few examples, the acts don’t have to be on a grand scale, these daily affirmations of kindness and love are abundant in my life, and for that I am grateful!

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