A focus on kindness took center stage during October at Saluda Elementary School.

Saluda School Counselors Sherrie Huffman and Katy Montgomery have developed a school-wide character education program that focuses on one character trait for each month, and October’s emphasis was kindness. Students in all grades watched videos of book readings by the school counselors as well as other videos about kindness to themselves and to others.

Students also participated in a culminating activity in their classrooms called “Connected by Kindness.” Each student had a paper link and wrote ways to be kind to themselves and others. Examples of answers ranged from “drink more water” and “feed my dogs without being told” to “think kind thoughts” and “hold open the door for the next person in line.”

“With Red Ribbon Week and Bullying Prevention Month both being in October, we decided that kindness would be a good character trait for the month,” Montgomery said. “Kindness can be to others, but also to ourselves. When we are kind to ourselves, we tend to make better decisions and then that can also help us be kind to others.

“We wanted to create a culture of kindness at Saluda Elementary where each class could see how we are all connected to each other.”

Students also did teacher-led activities such as kindness acrostics in Melissa Gillespie’s third grade class.

Huffman and Montgomery developed their monthly character trait lessons and videos last year during the COVID-19 shutdown out of necessity.

“We realized that many of our students were remote-only students that would not get any classroom counseling lessons unless they were done virtually, so we started reading social-emotional learning and character building books on video, and we shared the videos with all classes so that all students either at home or at school could be involved,” Huffman said.

Huffman and Montgomery will continue to cover various traits this school year including gratitude, manners and putting forth good effort.

Students in Michelle Richardson’s second grade class participated in Kindness Month by making “Connected By Kindness” links for the school kindness chain.