Community of Kindness is the first initiative of the new Galinsky Academy [the home for all the schools of the Jacksonville Jewish Center including the Martin J. Gottlieb Day School, the DuBow Preschool, the Bernard & Alice Selevan Religious School and Makom Hebrew High]. It was launched at the beginning of the 2012-2013 school year, and we are partnering with Jewish Family & Community Services. It is a sustained, meaningful, comprehensive program that will not only include our schools, but also our clergy, to ensure the fullest participation and the maximum impact possible.
The plan from the beginning has been to avoid the one-shot assemblies or training that have some, but fleeting impact on the lives of our students, teachers, and parents and move to something deeper and more powerful.
Our assumptions are as follows:
- Survey data from our schools indicates that the most prevailing form of “bullying” or “mean” behaviors throughout our institution are those of social exclusion.
- Our students, academically, know what the right thing to do is. But many suffer from a pervasive “by-standerism” that prevents rightful action from occurring.
- The schools are capable of responding appropriately once behaviors happen. The reactionary system is working appropriately, by and large.
- We need to create a culture that reduces, if not eliminates, those kinds of behaviors from happening in the first place. We lack a proactive system.
- It will take students, parents, teachers, administrators, volunteers, and clergy working together to create a common vocabulary and to build a culture where a child of 3, a teen of 15, and a parent would each be equally willing to come forward when faced with “mean” behaviors and articulate that this is not how we behave here.
We will know we have succeeded when we hear peers tell each other that…
“We don’t let friends eat by themselves here.”
“We don’t let our classmates play by themselves on the playground.”
“Of course you could be my math partner!”
“No one works by themselves on class projects here.”
“We invite all our friends to birthday parties in our community.”
We will know the culture has shifted when those kinds of expressions are voluntarily offered, not teacher prompted.