Ripples in the Water
Ms. Albert had brought a big bowl into class and filled it with water. We all gathered around her desk and watched her drop a small stone into it. Tiny waves rippled out, away from the stone. 'This is what kindness does,' Ms. Albert said. 'Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world.'" (From Each Kindness, by Jacqueline Woodson)
February is "I Love to Read Month," when our schools celebrate and
encourage reading. On the first Friday afternoon, I was guest reader.
Kindergartners giggled and quacked in concert with the words and illustrations of Make Way for Ducklings
by Robert McCloskey.
First graders walked the streets of Paris "in two straight lines
" following the adventures of Madeline
, by Ludwig Bemelman.
Second graders listened quietly to The Giving Tree
by Shel Silverstein, and in some small way saw the allegory to growing older and what it means to be happy.
By fourth grade, the fare was deeper. Thank you, Mr. Falker
tells of a little girl who struggles to read until Mr. Falker...but, no giving away the ending
During the last 30 minutes of the day I was with fifth graders. After I read the passage above from Each Kindness
, I looked up at the boys and girls, most sitting on the carpet, arms around their knees.
"Then Ms. Albert let us each drop the
stone in as we told her what kind things we had done. I stood there,
holding Ms. Albert's rock in my hand, silent...but I couldn't think of
anything and passed the stone on
In front of me I saw only solemn expressions. One or two heads were down.
tells of a
school classroom not so different from their own. A new girl moves into
the school. Who will show her kindness? Who will welcome her?
As I end the story and close the book, I look back up to their faces.
"Did you want the book to end
!" Several students shake their heads. "There has to be more to the story. The silent girl needs to have another chance to show kindness
Because it was the end of the day and week, I offered to come back. A
week later I sat with six boys and girls who want to talk more about the
story. We find a quiet corner on the carpet just outside the classroom.
"What do you think happened?
She wanted to make friends with the new girl, but she was afraid...
The other kids in class teased her...
She never got to smile back to the new girl and say she was sorry...
Have you missed an opportunity for kindness?
There was a first grader who was
really sick and had lots of problems...and then he came back for a
while, but then had to leave again. I think he was dying. I wish I had
Have you seen kindness in others?
I was really shy when I was in preschool and there was one person who understood me. I had one friend.
What did you think about after the story?
I wished she had just smiled.
How do you want to act when someone new comes into your school or neighborhood?
Be more nice...
Be more kind...
Accept people for who they are.. They can't help it if they have old
clothes or if there are poor or if their family is having a hard time...
See who they are before judging...
Get to know them and be a friend...you might not get another chance
The children saw parallels between welcoming a new classmate and
welcoming immigrants and refugees. Among my young friends are some who
are first generation Americans. They know firsthand.
"'Even small things count
,' Ms. Albert said gently."
This is what kindness does... Each little thing we do goes out, like a ripple, into the world
Michael J. Lovett, Ph.D
Superintendent, White Bear Lake Area Schools