By Lori Berkey, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Four fourth-graders at Sgt. Charles J. Jaworek Elementary School stood on stage Nov. 30 during an assembly and performed a skit that acted out what happens when kids “choose to be nice.” The presentation was part of a school-wide initiative partnering Jaworek with the Choose to be Nice (CTBN) program that offers a comprehensive curriculum aimed at helping students build skills for making the world a nicer place.
Founded by Dina Creiger in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing in 2013, CTBN surfaced as “a social movement dedicated to encouraging and inspiring kindness wherever and whenever possible.” Teachers and administrators are offered a rubric for incorporating social and emotional learning activities to support changed and improved behaviors in schools.
Jaworek Principal Ron Sanborn found out about the program and felt it was something important to provide at his Marlborough elementary school.
“We felt that the program fit naturally with the pro-social efforts that we have had up and running for the last three years,” Sanborn said. “The program allows us to enhance the idea to students that we all make a decision to do the right thing.”
Sanborn thinks the curriculum provides students with essential tools for finding “nice” ways to respond to various situations they are faced with.
“The goal is to educate and bring awareness that ‘nice’ is choice every individual can make on a daily basis,” Sanborn added. “The program helps students realize that different character traits are components that lead to being ‘nice.’”
According to Sanborn, the program kicked off at Jaworek with the entire school making the “Choose to Be Nice” pledge. Each student was introduced to the program and what it meant for Jaworek community. Teachers support it by donning CTBN apparel, discussing the program in their classrooms, and introducing it through interactive bulletin boards and conversations.
Sanborn said he hopes the students will emerge with a sense of consciousness to be kind with their related actions being second nature to them.
“Through everyday practice, we hope that this can be a lasting message students have with them for a lifetime.” Sanborn said.
Amy Fitzgibbon is an adjustment counselor at Jaworek who, along with fellow counselor Christine Hilditch, facilitates the fourth-grade leadership council.
Fitzgibbon said the skit the student leaders performed was all student-driven. She and Hilditch introduced the skit idea to the student leadership council, and a small group of students volunteered and ran with it.
“They brainstormed the theme, ‘helpful people,’ decided on speaking and acting roles, and demonstrated what leadership and respectful behavior is all about,” Fitzgibbon noted.
The students each willingly gave up their recesses for several days to coordinate the script and to rehearse.
“They were an enthusiastic bunch who encouraged each other and really demonstrated what it means to ‘choose to be nice,’” Fitzgibbon said. “Children readily look to their peers as role models; the fourth-grade student leaders were so proud to represent their council and share their feelings on what it means to be helpful and kind.”
For more information about CTBN, visit www.choosetobenice.com.