Written by: Jennifer Appel
Based on the stories told by: Paul Dowdy
“No act of KINDNESS...no matter how small is
One day my dad was sitting in his office at his desk and he heard a blood curdling scream coming from the lounge area down the hall. He immediately dashed from his office and ran down the hallway to the lounge. It sounded like someone was being attacked or something terrifying was happening in his school. He was worried about his staff members as this was an area that only staff was allowed. As he reached the area, [which was only a few large steps away, but felt like a mile] he discovered a young student, with a garbage can in his hand walking into the hallway to empty it into a larger garbage cart. He could hear a woman sobbing behind the door that the young man had just exited.
He quickly realized it was a teacher and she was yelling, “he did this”. He couldn’t figure out what the teacher was saying, but was very concerned with what must have happened. As he stood there for a few seconds trying to figure out what was going on, the young man came back with the empty garbage can and tried to enter the bathroom again, but discovered it was locked. My dad started to put the pieces together and understand what must have happened.
After the teacher was able to compose herself and come out of the bathroom, my dad was very patient and showed KINDNESS toward the teacher and tried to help calm her down and hear her story of what occurred. Only after listening with empathy, did he begin to share with her the student's motivation on entering the bathroom...
The young man was a student in the district who was in our self-contained special education program. The special education director and my father had set up a program for this young man to help give him some life skills. My father was a principal who loved to have all students in his building. He enjoyed having the district life skills program and hi-cap in his building. He believed in showing KINDNESS to ALL students and meeting all of their needs. This student came over to my dad’s elementary school every day and was expected to empty all of the trash cans in the building. He was instructed to empty all of the cans in a specific order and be very quiet and polite as to not interrupt any of the classrooms or any areas in the building where teachers would be working, etc.
On this particular day, he was working his way around the school emptying the garbage in rooms until he arrived at the teacher lounge bathrooms. He had already emptied the garbage in the men’s room and then he moved his attention to the women’s restroom. Unfortunately, a female teacher had entered the bathroom a few minutes before he arrived and had neglected to lock the door. The young man, like he did every day, opened the door grabbed the garbage can and walked out to empty it into the large garbage cart in the main hallway.
The poor teacher had no idea what was happening and began to scream as though her life was in danger. The young man was totally oblivious to the teacher screaming and was just doing what he had been taught to do for that day. He was not being disrespectful to the teacher or probably even registered the fact that he had just seen someone in the restroom, he was just focused on looking at the trash and emptying it.
The teacher was very upset and of course was reacting on emotion like anyone would in that situation. She wanted this young man banned from my dad’s school. My dad was able to show KINDNESS to the teacher just as he had the student and talk to her and help her understand what happened. He explained that the student was just doing as he was told, and had no idea what he had done. He suggested that she make sure and lock the door and that maybe they could keep this wonderful program going. After some time and prospective, she was able to see the incident from the student's perspective and was also able to show KINDNESS toward him and support the student's continued work at the school.
Award Winning Cultures set up an environment where EVERYONE can show KINDNESS even in a stressful situation.
How have you seen KINDNESS change others perspective on overcoming adversity?
How might you stay focused on KINDNESS, during challenging moments?
How does your culture support diverse students, programs, and activities?
About the Authors
Jennifer Appel is a teacher at Enterprise Middle School. She has been teaching for 20 years. Her passion for education comes from growing up in at education driven family (4th generation) and wanting to help and serve others. She is now driven to create an environment where all students are able to learn and become passionate about serving others. Jennifer can be contacted through email at email@example.com. You can follow her on twitter at @jennifermappel. Follow AWC @awculture on instagram @awardwinningculture. Follow Wildcat Nation on instagram @emsleadership. #WildcatNation #AwardWinningCulture
Paul Dowdy is a retired elementary school teacher and principal. Paul was in education for more than 40 years. Paul created cultures of excellence at every school he taught at or lead. Paul was also an adjunct professor at 3 different universities in the state of Washington and a regional director for Heritage University. Paul has shared his stories all around the state of Washington in the form of presentations. He's passionate about children and that reflected in all of his work as a reading specialist and his study of the brain and how that drives instruction. Paul is not on social media...but can be reached near any body of water that's conducive to shadow casting! #FlyFishing
Award Winning Culture was created by Hans and Jennifer Appel with the sole purpose of creating an educational mindset of Positive INTENTIONALITY and ACTION; with a daily mantra to make our sphere of influence stronger through Character, Excellence, and Community. Part of AWC's mission is to highlight outstanding educators, companies, and resources that support an Award Winning Culture. Both Jennifer and Hans work at Enterprise Middle School aka Wildcat Nation. Wildcat Nation received the 2018 ASCD Whole Child Award in Washington, for its award winning culture and the 2018 Global "Class Act Award" for Kindness.