Encouraging a Caring Community: One School’s Small Steps to Make a Big Impact

Jessica Cabeen and her son demonstrate the #150WKC Challenge

By Jessica M. Cabeen, Principal of Woodson Kindergarten Center, Austin, Minn.

Being the principal of one of the largest All-Day Kindergarten Centers in Minnesota has many perks and many challenges. Our school has more than eighteen home languages, and 51 percent of our students are students of color. We have wonderful opportunities to learn from our families and our students who bring diverse experiences through the front door every day. These diverse experiences shape how we teach and learn with each other.

Last year Search Institute featured some of our students in a video that highlighted suggestions from their 150 Ways to Show Kids You Care poster. That nudge got me wondering, How could we foster more of these experiences and share them with others? Enter the #150WKC Challenge idea.

Thanks to our growing partnership with Search Institute, each child at Woodson received the new edition of the 150 Ways to Show Kids You Care poster. To encourage our parents to try the ideas on the poster, we asked families to do the following: read through the poster, choose one or two ways that your family shows they care, take a picture of yourselves showing that you care, and post it on our Facebook page with the hashtag #150WKC.

The response has been wonderful! To see families sharing their weekend activities, evening homework time, or walks in nature has been inspiring. So far, 2,000 people have viewed the website and the introductory video that goes along with the challenge. Parents are catching me in the morning and at bus dismissal to let me know how excited their child is to participate in this challenge. Staff members have also joined in and participated in the posting, increasing participation and support of our project. Even local TV broadcasters posted pictures, furthering the community-wide response.

What have we learned from providing our students and their families with a little poster that lists 150 practical ways to show kids you care? The enthusiastic response that we got from both kids and parents told us that our families are ready and willing to do whatever it takes to encourage their children’s learning if we provide them with actionable ideas for achieving that goal. Efforts to show that you care can be small, but we know these words and deeds make a large impact.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

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Science

Students need to feel safe in school or it drastically impacts their learning. Safety is a large umbrella that means physical and emotional safety!