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Dr. Higgins: Kindness matters for OneMa1ze, and you can find examples district-wide

Dr. Chad Higgins, Superintendent of Maize Schools As we work to foster a OneMa1ze school community that meets all students' needs, one common theme is kindness. We want to treat others right, build empathy, and work to understand others' perspectives. This approach makes our educators caring and effective, our students resilient now and in the future, and improves our community here and beyond.
 
Our teachers make an effort to begin each day greeting students with a smile, handshake, or hug, an effort in line with the Capturing Kids' Hearts program, which we recently expanded from our elementary and middle schools to our high schools. Kindness matters from the very beginning of the school day. We even have provided such training to departments across our district to ensure that our paras, bus drivers, food service workers, and clerical staff members are part of our district's shared mission of kindness.
 
Through our Maize Way character education program, our students learn about friendship, compassion, respect, and generosity, among other traits that emphasize kindness. We do not tolerate bullying, we teach our students to be respectful in the classroom and on athletic fields, and we even coach our youngest students about what to do if they find themselves a bystander witnessing unkind acts between peers.
 
I am proud of the kindness-in-action you can find at any of our schools district-wide. At Complete High School Maize, the district's alternative high school, students are paired with a caring adult mentor through the Somebody's Someone program. They may share lunch occasionally, and in doing so, share life. They can grow a friendship that bridges generations and challenges and successes. This was among multiple strengths highlighted recently when the school was selected as a 2020 State School of Character. The award comes from  Character.org , a Washington, D.C.-based national organization that promotes character to inspire and empower compassionate people around the world. Complete is the only Kansas school to receive this designation this year and among only 81 schools and seven districts nationwide. Clearly, kindness matters.
 
At Pray-Woodman Elementary School, students and educators meet regularly with their Pride Families. "Pride" in this initiative stands for Promoting Relationships School-wide In the Direction of Excellence. Groups of students and educators from various classes and grade levels meet to build their Pride Families and perform service projects, such as decorating place mats for a local retirement home.
 
On Twitter, you can follow the hashtag #OneMa1zeCares to see countless additional examples of our students and community in acts of kindness.
 
These lessons serve our students and community well now and provide our students with tools and resources to navigate what can at times be an unkind world. Today and in the future, our students must navigate societal judgments that may be unfair, at-times charged political climates, and changing expectations and standards in our changing world.
 
Unfortunately, there are times when we fall short of kindness. A student may make a bad choice and bully a peer in a way that is difficult to prove or address. Sports activities often can bring out the worst in people, driving a constant state of vigilance. Even staff members, of course, can falter in our commitment to kindness. However, we embrace our opportunity and ability to learn and work to get better together as OneMa1ze.  
 
We want our students and our district to achieve every success and will push to obtain those that seem even outside our grasp. We aim to do so with decency and kindness in a way that reflects that what we do is great but the way we do it is even greater.