Kindness and Community

As I'm making the rounds throughout the district, I'm sort of trying to take a "blank slate" approach to the start of the school year. Not that I don't have things that I'll always look for (i.e. relevant, engaging, authentic instruction). However, I wanted to walk through the halls of our schools and just see what jumped out at me. What am I noticing? What patterns are emerging?

What I've noticed, even in the relatively few days school has been in session, is multiple instances of the power of compassion and community-building. For example...

Grayslake North Football Coach Coach Sam Baker hosted a "Hearts and Minds" Football camp for some of our students with special needs on a Friday before the first varsity football scrimmage. He and his staff and players led these students through the Grayslake North inflatable Knight, used by the Football team for their spectacular entrance onto the field before each game. He then coached the students through some passing, receiving, and running drills (including their best touchdown dance!). 

This week we also saw the grand opening of the Knight's Cafe at Grayslake North. Students with special needs serve coffee and treats every day during lunch to thirsty staff and students. In addition to making a darn fine cup of coffee, these students bring joy to whatever they do. We are tremendously lucky that we are part of the same community, and it's extremely gratifying to see how much the entire school looks forward to and supports the Knight's Cafe.

At Grayslake Central, I was walking through the halls as students from the Public Service Practicum (PSP) course were organizing materials that they have collected for a School Supply Drive. Again, we see students modeling kindness and helping families within our community. 

Finally, I have sent out a few tweets reminding people to head to Culver's this Sunday (9/1) to help a Grayslake Central family who has recently endured a tremendous loss. I am certain the community will show up in droves to support this family.

So what's the big deal? Well, ALL of this is a really big deal. Community building and kindness-related activities are (thankfully) part of the fiber of what we do at Grayslake 127, and they have a massive impact on many people.

Unfortunately, I feel like we sometimes take these types of activities for granted. At the very least, we don't always give the students and staff the fanfare they deserve for the tremendous amount of work they put in. I'm just proud that we have that culture in which we act on our values - that giving back to the community is as important to our students and staff as academic content.

This year there will be hundreds of acts just like what I've briefly described above, affecting thousands of people. Some will get noticed more than others. Every bit of it is important, because we don't know the struggles that people are going through. We don't know when that one kind word, that one cup of coffee, that one act of kindness that may cost us very little personally, will mean everything to someone.

Keep it up Grayslake.