December 2nd, 2016
By Karly Noel, RedRover Director of Education and Outreach
Today I witnessed something beautiful. I visit elementary schools often in my role at RedRover, but this time was different. This time I experienced more than just story sharing and thoughtful students commenting about helping others. Today I saw the power that children have to warm the hearts of adults and give them hope for a better tomorrow.
I saw my boss, Nicole, sitting with a group of passionate elementary school students who were discussing what they would like to see done to make the world a better place. Nicole did not want to leave. She didn’t want to stop talking with the students and hearing their thoughtful, touching, beautiful comments about how they want to help, what they are doing to change the world, about the fundraisers they have organized to help animals and their stories of friendship with pets and with each other.
It was a beautiful and uplifting sight. She needed that. We all need that. We need to provide opportunities for students to share their ideas on how to construct positive solutions for the problems plaguing us AND we need to listen. One student put it this way: “When adults and teachers listen to us, we feel like our ideas matter and that we are part of something bigger…that we can change the world together and be better for each other.”
Teachers like Anika Swisher-Shukuya at Westmore Oaks Elementary School are creating a generation of caring compassionate youth. Students who, even after they are promoted to the next grade, still return to her classroom every day to visit her on their lunch break. Ms. Shukuya listens to her students. She provides ample opportunities for her students to lead community service projects, to help others and practice the kind of social-awareness and empathy that are crucial to changing the world. This teacher has taken the RedRover Readers professional development training and is using the curriculum in her classroom to promote positive classroom culture and perspective-taking skills.
Her students and animals are benefiting. Like one little boy who said, “At first, I used to be scared of dogs…then I read this book and I like dogs again,” and another who mentioned, “[The RedRover Readers program] makes you feel kinder toward them (animals) because they have struggles and pain in their lives too.”
Today I witnessed something beautiful. The power children have to warm the hearts of adults and inspire hope for a better tomorrow.
Learn more about the RedRover Readers program at RedRover.org/Readers.