Kindness Education Program

At the October FLMS meeting, a representative from the 365Z Foundation discussed the organization's roots and its 365Z Kindness Education Program. They showed a cool video created by students that outlined the program. Thanks to the Tarentino Family Foundation, this innovative program is being implemented at LMS.

365Z Foundation

The 365Z Foundation, Inc. is an organization whose mission is “to provide ideas, guidance, and resources that will encourage, inspire and challenge individuals to perform conscious acts of kindness.” The foundation was formed by a group of concerned citizens after a young man, Zachary Ford, died tragically. In the days and weeks following his passing, his family heard innumerable stories about how Zach, through his own acts of kindness, had made a positive, lasting impact on the lives of so many others. As a way to cope with her son’s death, his mother, Rosemary, vowed to perform an act of kindness every day. The name 365Z represents 365 days of kindness and the Z is for Zachary.

365Z Kindness Education Program

The Foundation offers a 365Z Kindness Education Program designed to encourage students to be kind and thoughtful and to facilitate a change in their behavior in school, at home, and in the community. The program provides schools with a curriculum that focuses on kindness, including ideas for after-school service learning activities. According to 365Z Foundation data, when kindness is prevalent in a school, there is a reduction in disciplinary action and suspensions. 365Z was created by school teachers and administrators and has been implemented in many schools in central Massachusetts.

365Z at LMS

LMS is currently implementing 365Z, which fits into other kindness initiatives very well:

  • The school’s mission is “To grow strong minds and kind hearts.” The mission is supported through the school's core values, especially kindness. 
  • All students were invited to sign a 365Z banner and a pledge to spread kindness. The banner is hanging in the cafeteria.
  • Every day after morning announcements, the principal reads a kindness quote to students.
  • The school's Caught in the Act program highlights students who display random acts of kindness.
  • The Student of the Month program publicly recognizes students who live the core values. Students are invited with their parent and guardians to a recognition breakfast.
  • Through groups like the Peer Leadership Group, National Junior Honor Society, CommuniTeen, and Dare to Care, students take part in activities that promote kindness and service to others.
  • Ms. Leveille has updated the health curriculum to include lessons provided by the 365Z Foundation. One lesson focuses on "memory banks," the place in the brain that holds memories of the way we have been treated by others:
    • Students share a positive memory of someone who showed kindness to them and what is stored in their memory banks about the incident.
    • Students think about their own place in other people’s memory banks, and how they want to be remembered.
    • Students learn that they have the power to create positive memories in other people’s memory banks and come up with an action plan for making it happen.
LMS believes that kindness makes school a happier and safer place to be.

Because of this discussion, members went away with a good idea of what the 365Z program is about.

Keeping Children Safe on Social Media

Last year, FLMS held its first parent workshop, welcoming Ellen Miller from the District Attorney’s Office. Ms. Miller’s role at the DA’s office is to reach out to schools in all 60 cities and towns in Worcester County to educate students and parents about topics such as substance abuse, bullying, and social media.

The topic for this workshop was Keeping Children Safe on Social Media. Ms. Miller briefly discussed the laws related to bullying and harassment, focusing most of her attention on cyberbullying. She cited the following reasons why cyberbullying is so attractive to aggressors: people are brave online because they think they are anonymous, they don’t think they will be caught, and they don’t see the reactions to their aggressive behavior.

Ms. Miller highlighted the newest social media apps, discussing the pros and cons of each. Perhaps the strongest message she gave was that when we use these apps, we create a digital footprint that stays with us for the rest of our lives.

In her travels around Worcester County, Ellen regularly cautions students about leaving negative digital footprints that can have serious consequences later in life such as not being accepted into colleges and universities and not being considered for employment opportunities, professional and semi-professional sports teams, or the military. In her words, “Delete does not exist. Once you post something, you have lost total control of it.”

Ms. Miller ended the conversation with some helpful hints for protecting children while in cyberspace such as urging kids to keep their passwords and devices to themselves, storing devices in common areas of the house, and having regular conversations with their children about the use of social media.