Tuesday, September 27, 2022

Be Kind: Positive Changes Happening at Lafayette Middle School

Lafayette County Middle School recently started the “Be Kind” program in hopes of encouraging students to be kinder to each other. The school has present more than 100 awards have been received since the program was launched in November.

The 'Be Kind Like Josh' bracelet given to students  who are "caught" being kind to their classmates.
The ‘Be Kind Like Josh’ bracelet given to students who are “caught” being kind to their classmates.

The Josh Stevens Foundation, a non-profit organization that encourages students to show kindness, is sponsoring the program. The way the program at LMS works is when a student is “caught” being kind to a classmate, a teacher will refer that student to the office. The student then receives a positive write up, as well as a “Be Kind Like Josh” bracelet.
“I was just so excited because it felt like I had made a big change in my life,” said Dominique Herron, a seventh grader at LMS who recently received the award for helping an injured student.
In addition, Chris Chism, LMS principal, also calls the student’s parents to let them know that their child has received an award for being kind. The goal of the program is to decrease negative behavior by focusing on positive behavior.
“I think a lot of times we get focused, as schools in general, on bullying and negativity,” Chism said. “I would prefer that the positive things over run the negative things.”
Anna Allen, student council president at LMS, introduced the program to the school. Allen attended a presentation given by Drew Stevens, founder of the Josh Stevens Foundation, and immediately started working to bring the “Be Kind” to her school. Four months later, she’s already glad she did. “It’s changed our school dramatically,” Allen said.
Other students agree. Lynlee Moore received one of the first “Be Kind” awards given at LMS when she filled out extra study guides for absent students. Moore wears her bracelet often and noticed her peers aspiring to receive one as well.
Lafayette Middle School Students:  Lynlee Moore, Dominique Herron, and Anna Allen.
Lafayette Middle School Students: Lynlee Moore, Dominique Herron, and Anna Allen.

“I’ve heard students say many times ‘I’ve tried so hard to get a ‘Be Kind’ bracelet, but I can’t seem to get one,’” Allen said. “I tell them to just keep trying.”
Moore’s mother, Amy, is very pleased with the program and what it represents. She is proud of LMS for rewarding good behavior and encouraging students to be role models for each other.
“I really think it’s such a good thing for kids, to bring out the positive,” Amy Moore said.
The faculty has also noticed a change in the students’ behavior since the program began. Penny Allen, a sixth grade math teacher at LMS, noticed that students started acknowledging their classmates’ kind behavior. She said the majority of her students are aspiring to receive a “Be Kind” bracelet.
“You can see them up and down the hall,” Penny Allen said. “The students wear them daily. They are proud of their bracelets.”
LMS students modeling their 'Be Kind' bracelets.
LMS students modeling their ‘Be Kind’ bracelets.

Shortly after LMS launched the program, Stevens visited the school to give a presentation. He told the students the story of how the program started and why they should always do kind things for others. Since his visit, he has called Chism twice to find out how the program is working for the school, and Chism is always happy to inform him that the program has taken off well.
Since the program began, disciplinary actions at the school have decreased by 30 percent. “I think students are becoming more accountable,” Chism said. According to Chism, most weeks he receives more positive referrals than negative. He expects the program to continue to grow and have a bigger impact over time.
 
– Cassidy Hopkins is a student in the Meek School of Journalism and New Media. She can be reach by emailing cbhopkin@go.olemiss.edu.

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