Written by Carol Frank Saturday, 22 June 2013 00:00
One of the best perks of this job is to be invited to an elementary school event and it is especially heart-warming to visit Saddle Rock School where my two children attended many years ago. While the school building itself has had some renovations in the intervening years, it’s halls are still festooned with the children’s bright, splashy art work and its classrooms filled with eager, bubbly learners.
Kindergarten teacher Sabra Satten had invited the Great Neck Record to see and hear all the kindergarten children in action as they reached out to other grades to assist them in being Pet Pals, a program to donate items to the Town of North Hempstead Animal Shelter. She had explained that already the children had been bringing in items such as toys, treats, collars, leashes, food and gently used towels, but now, they would branch out to the other classrooms, telling the other children about their project and “persuading” them to bring in items too.
First, all the kindergarten children met together with their teachers and ran through all the points in their presentations...about what dogs need to be safe, to be healthy and grow and to feel loved. And then, with their teachers, they fanned out to visit all the other classrooms.
Satten said, “The kids are so excited about their project and doing something for the dogs at the shelter ... but they’ll also be learned to speak publicly and to share their excitement with others ... It’s all part of our philosophy that we can also teach kindness along with everything else.”
Two staff people from the Shelter, Genna Tudda and Scott Halleran, were in attendance as well and they expressed their thanks to the children for caring about the work of the shelter.
The students had also made colorful posters to enhance their oral presentations and their faces beamed as they shared their project with the other children and asked for their help. All the classes gave a warm welcome to the kindergarteners and promised to help. Satten says that indeed everyone did help and that cartons of supplies were given to the shelter.
The school adopted a motto, one that was voted on by the children: Smart Choices, Kind Voices and it is mounted on a wall in the school in bold colors.
Saddle Rock is also part of a nation-wide program, called Rachel’s Challenge. Satten added, “Although we don’t talk to the little ones about the Columbine tragedy, we did choose to take the challenge of this organization that was formed by the father of Rachel Joy Scott who was the first victim in the Columbine shootings. Her father began to speak about the need for a more compassionate society... He used Rachel’s writings and drawings in her diary to make the points. We believe that if children learn and experience compassion at an early age, it can make a big difference … It’s all about starting a chain reaction...one kindness leads to another.”
If you look up in the hallways of Saddle Rock School, you will see paper chains. Each color represents a particular classroom ... and when children show kindness, another link is made in the chain.
The chains stretch a long, long way and continue to grow.