Kindness counts at the George L. Cooke Elementary School

Social Emotional Wellness (SEW) Facilitator, Elisa Mendels, has ignited a spark of kindness through the halls of the George L. Cooke Elementary School. Ms. Mendels, who visits each classroom once per week as part of the district’s social-emotional learning initiatives, showed students a video from Kids For Peace USA that outlined the impact that acts of kindness can have on their families, friends, communities and the entire world. The video ended with an invitation for students to join in on the organization’s Great Kindness Challenge – an initiative that aims to encourage children all over the world to spread positivity.

After watching the video, Cooke students received an activity sheet listing possible acts of kindness, such as “tell a joke and make someone laugh,” “compliment five people,” “decorate three hearts and leave them for family and friends to find.” Ms. Mendels the invited students to complete each kindness activity over the upcoming weeks, explaining that anyone who did so would receive a special certificate.  

a group of glass jars containing treats are stacked up on a table
Students created “kindness jars” to thank transportation staff as part of Cooke’s kindness challenge.

Classes also brainstormed how they could work together to have a positive impact on their community. They decided to create “kindness jars,” and passed them out to the district’s transportation staff as a token of thanks.

“It was a beautiful sentiment,” Director of Transportation Robin Sklar said. “The drivers and monitors were very appreciative and moved by the gifts.”

Each classroom also set out their own jars to collect “kindness coins” – monetary donations to benefit the Sullivan County SPCA. With kindness month coming to a close, the students are currently using their SEW time to count their class’s total contribution.

a teacher and student are seated at a desk. The student is counting coins as the teacher watches


During Ms. Ruston’s second-grade class’s SEW time on Feb. 3, students each received a handful of coins from the classroom’s jar and set to work sorting them out into dollars, quarters, dimes and pennies. Ms. Mendels then came around to assist each student in counting up their total. Aside from learning about kindness, the activity also served as a math and history lesson, as students learned the value of each coin, while also identifying the presidents featured on each. Altogether, the class raised $32.50.   

a young boy is seated at a desk holding up coins for the camera
Ms. Ruston’s students sorted and counted the “kindness coins” during their SEW times.

Ms. Mendels estimates that between all of the classes they have raised approximately $1,000 to help the animals of Sullivan County.