In April, we celebrated our value of “Be Kind,” with a month-long campaign including acts of kindness, a community art project, and overall focus on this value. Two of the members of our Aspen Academy community, Mrs. Cho and Mr. Skipwith, were interviewed and asked their thoughts on the impact of the campaign. Here are their observations:
Question: Why is "Be Kind" an important value for you, personally?
Be Kind, for me, is such an important value for me personally in that it invites, allows and expects that we can engage with one another in our community and beyond in a Be Kind First way that sets the foundation for all of our additional work to take place. When we begin with kindness, we set the stage for respectful collaboration, building towards empathy as an inherent way of being, facilitating respectful and effective communication and problem solving, pushing kids to explore creatively different ways to navigate the world in an interconnected way, and ultimately through practice, build in our students and other community members a strong sense of character that is morally right. - Jessie Skipwith, Student Success Coach, Kindness Ambassador (JS)
Being kind is an important value for me, because there were so many profound moments in my life when people were unkind in a detrimental way….I try to do my small part to make sure I can be at least one kind voice for everyone whenever they may need it. - Jessica Cho, 5th & 6th Grade Instructor, Earth & Physical Science, Student Leadership & Entrepreneurship Coach (JC)
Question: What's one act of kindness you experienced that resonated and left an impression on you?
There was one student in particular that did something small and helpful for another; after receiving a sticker for it, that student continually did larger and larger things throughout the month to be kind! He ended up earning multiple stickers from many different people, and he became a noticeably positive and helpful person by the end of the month! - JC
For me the "collective one thing" was the several times that I was able to gift a Be Kind sticker to an inspirational and deserving student, who in turn, lit up with smiles and pride about the kindness that was recognized that they bring into the world. The affirmation felt by students resonated exponentially throughout our school community and these kids themselves as well as the other kids who observed their acknowledgement were further inspired to do good for and towards others. - JS
Question: What difference did it make to students' lives to actively celebrate kindness last month? And to our larger community of parents, caregivers, faculty and staff?
One major difference that the Be Kind Campaign made in the lives of our students and extended community is that it put one of our Core Values, "Be Kind" front and center for all to see. This in turn re-emphasized that this is indeed a primary and important aspect of who we are as the Aspen Academy community. The act of doing and engaging personally truly brings to the forefront the importance of living out our values. - JS
Students noticed each other more and took the time to pay attention to one another; it also helped foster positive communication between everyone involved! It put a positive spin on every interaction! - JC
Our sincere thanks to all who participated in Be Kind April.
“Remember there’s no such thing as a small act of kindness. Every act creates a ripple with no logical end.” – Scott Adams
About the Contributors:
Jessica Cho is a 5th & 6th Grade Earth & Physical Science Instructor and Student Leadership & Entrepreneurship Coach at Aspen Academy. Jessica graduated from Colorado State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Natural Sciences. She continued her education at the University of Northern Colorado, where she earned a Master's Degree in Educational Psychology. She worked for seven years in Douglas County Schools before coming to Aspen Academy. Jessica loves coming to work in a place where every child is cared for and encouraged to grow. Outside of school, she loves to run, sing, and go backpacking. In fall of 2018, Jessica completed the NYC Marathon.
Jessie Skipwith is a Student Success Coach at Aspen Academy. Jessie comes to Aspen with over 20 years of experience in educational leadership and student engagement. He has held head of school positions at elementary, middle and high schools, ran an all-school counseling department, provided private practice counseling services for families and individuals, and has served as the executive director of an education non-profit supporting low-income, English language learners from throughout the greater Denver area and at private schools in Denver. He is a voracious reader of books about how students learn, how families and communities support developing young people, as well as books on progressive, innovative and dynamic new solutions to many of today’s life challenges. Jessie loves that Aspen Academy provides families and students with a small, nurturing and safe environment that encourages students to take healthy risks, to push themselves beyond their comfort zones, and that it inspires insatiable curiosity and wonder in students as they pursue their passions to help make the world a better place to live for all people. Outside of work, he loves to spend time with his wife and two children and enjoying Colorado’s great outdoors while hiking, golfing or skiing.