And for one, those lessons have helped reach a peer across the globe.
Inspired by their teacher, Julia Tarquinio, the fifth-grade students recently embarked on projects aimed at making small gestures of kindness that can leave a lasting impression.
As part of her annual curriculum, Tarquinio began the school year with a focus on how students can contribute positively to their community in an overall effort to help them become the best individuals they can be.
During the first quarter, students focused on developing rules for their classroom, as they also learned how to advocate for themselves, disagree with someone else and apologize to others. They read books about kindness, like “Wonder” by R. J. Palacio.
Then, each student created a kindness project, in which they chose to perform a good deed to see where it would lead.
One washed his parent’s car, another walked a friend’s dog and a third delivered flowers to an elderly neighbor.
Prompted by a photo of his mother holding an orphan in her lap during a trip to Kenya, Jack Ellison decided to send money he had been saving to help another child in need.
He sent his savings to The Amani Children’s Foundation, in Winston-Salem, which raises money for abandoned infants orphaned by HIV and poverty in Kenya. Amani then channeled the money to its partner organization in Kenya, New Life Homes. The orphanage decided to use it to help a boy named Daniel.
Daniel was found near a trash heap, wrapped in rags, two days after a terrorist shooting in a mall in Nairobi. Not long after he arrived, Daniel was thriving, but the staff soon discovered he was deaf. One after one his classmates were adopted but Daniel has not been chosen. Because of Jack’s money, Daniel will be given the chance to travel to the U.S. for cochlear implants, which will enable him to hear.
“I learned that with a little, small thing, you can do a really big thing,” Jack said.
And his experience has motivated him and his fellow classmates to keep raising funds for Daniel’s post-surgery therapy. Each week, Jack collects donations from Friends School students. His class will continue to follow Daniel’s story throughout the year by writing letters to the New Life Home in Kenya.