The Brightside: Adopt-a-School Program sends thanks to school staff

WICOMICO CO., Md. – It’s safe to say all of our lives have been impacted by the Covid 19 pandemic, but teachers in particular have had to adjust a lot over the last nearly two years. That’s why Kind SBY is on a mission to say thank you.

“I like to say they were building the ship, while it was flying, and I know I mixed metaphors, but that’s intentional, because that’s really what it was,” Martin Hutchison, a Kindness Commissioner, said of teachers, educators, and school staff, and how much they had to adjust during the pandemic.

“They have been through a lot. The uncertainty of the future, what’s happening, the inability to have their kids in the classroom and be able to impact them like they’ve been taught to do, and trained to do, and expected to do,” Martin said.

So Martin says he knew he wanted to do something to lift their spirits. As a Kindness Commissioner himself, Martin recruited the help of Grace Foxwell-Murdock, the Secretary of Kindness, to spread appreciation for teachers and school staff.

“Kind SBY loves educators, we love the staff, and all that they do to make our community strong through teaching our children, they’re very important to us,” Grace said.

So the two came up with the Adopt-a-School program, where businesses, organizations, and community members can adopt one of the 27 schools in Wicomico County and sponsor a morale-boosting event for the teachers and staff. Martin says while they deserve a big thank you, it can come in the form of something small.

“It can be as simple as a bowl of candy left on the office counter with a note saying, we see what you do for our children and we appreciate you,” he said.

Nicole Rittling is a kindergarten teacher at Willards Elementary, who has seen first hand the challenges educators have faced over the last almost two years. She agrees with Martin, saying something small can go a long way.

“When someone says hey we appreciate you, or here’s a cup of coffee, or a chocolate bar, it feels really good because we just don’t do that very well for each other and for ourselves,” she said.

Sponsors are given a list of ideas which include many low-cost options, and are asked to do something four times throughout the school year. And Rittling says even just words can make a lasting impact.

“Just a thank you goes a long way, and I think in the last couple years, a thank you goes really far,” she said. “A thank you from another staff member, a thank you from administration, and from parents it means so, so much.”

And the Kindness Commissioners say what starts as a thank you can lead to other acts of kindness.

“The ripple effect of kindness is unbelievable, it just goes on and you never know where it will end,” Grace said.

Grace and Martin did come up with some ideas of how to sponsor a school. That includes donating a puzzle to the staff to work on together or a simple bowl of candy. But they say the ideas are endless, and open to whoever adopts the school. If you’re interested in getting involved, search for #KindSBY on Facebook for more information.

Categories: Brightside