A Message from Dr. Jay Hancock…
Building on our 2018-19 theme verse (John 15:12: My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.), we want to be intentional about “building a culture of kindness” at Carmel Christian School.
Last year, a “Code of Courage” was introduced in the Middle School on a limited basis. I have asked Leslie Southerland, CCS Middle School Principal, to explain the origins of the program and how it is expanding this year as we roll it out over the next several months to the entire school. Leslie partnered with our other principals as well as Will Robertson, our missions & chapel coordinator, to develop this program.
Building a Culture of Kindness
By Leslie Southerland, Middle School Principal
In our theme verse for the year, John 15:12, we are commanded to love one another. Last year in the middle school, teachers and students watched the movie Wonder together. It’s a great movie about loving one another well. This film was adapted from a book of the same name. It follows a student with a facial deformity as he leaves a homeschool setting and attends a school with other children for the first time. He starts in middle school, and as you may imagine, he has a bumpy road.
After watching the movie, we talked with our students about how we should treat one another. We talked about what it looks like to be kind to everyone. We talked about empathy. We had great discussions. We knew we were on to something.
All around us, we see adults struggling to get along every day. Of course, social media can be a breeding ground for negativity, but we see people behaving badly every day even in face-to-face interactions. This happens in schools across the United States each day. Let’s be realistic. It happens at Carmel Christian School, which is populated by human beings in a fallen world.
In recent years, we have observed an increase in the instances of behavior in which students are being unkind to one another. While in the past we, as a small school, relied on families’ well-established relationships with one another to carry us through any conflicts, we now understand that as a larger school, we must have a more intentional approach to how we do life together.
To this end, our school will be adopting a “Code of Courage.” This “Code of Courage” was presented to Elementary and Middle School students in September chapels. High School students will be introduced in October. In the Middle School, we presented this Code to our students as a promise they will make to one another about how they will treat each other. Students have had the opportunity to provide input and share their own ideas about how we can cultivate a culture of kindness together and what an ideal school environment looks like. This feedback will be used to refine the program throughout the year. Elementary school students are using an age appropriate version of the Code of Courage, called “Courageous Cougars.”
For the next several months, the school chapel presentations will focus on one letter of the word “courage” each month. “C=care for one another” will be September’s focus. We will talk about what caring looks like, both in the Bible and even in careers that exemplify caring. “O=one makes a difference” will be October’s focus. We will talk about how we should stand up for what is biblical even if no one else is standing with us.
The themes are:
September: C=care for one another
October: O=one makes a difference
January: R=resolve conflicts
March: G=give thanks
April: E=encourage each other
Our goal with the Code of Courage is to empower students to make choices every day that will positively impact our school culture. We want their “default” setting to be one of kindness, motivated by Jesus’ words in John 15:12. With this in mind, we will encourage them to advocate for themselves and for one another, to resolve conflicts, and to “Choose Kind.”
We are asking you to partner with us as we emphasize “a culture of kindness” at our school. First, please pray for your child, their friends and our school, that God will move in hearts to be drawn closer to Him. As we continue to develop this Code, we will communicate with you so that you may continue the conversations at home. One way to begin is by asking your children about Chapel. What you discuss at home is far more important and powerful than what we discuss at school. When we partner together in this way, our children will hear a consistent message which makes a big difference in the discipleship of our children.