Hillel Academy creates culture of kindness for its young students

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Some young Tampa students aren't just reading about kindness at school, they're living it.

It’s all part of Hillel Academy’s culture of kindess, an ongoing effort to teach their students the benefits of being nice. Every day, the fourth graders start the start class by greeting each other with a "hello" and a smile.

According to Allison Oakes, Head of School at Hillel Academy, said the best way to explain kindness to 9 years old is not by telling them, but by showing them. 

"You have to role model for them what kindness means," she explained. "You have to interact with other adults with kindess, interact with them with kindess, and give them actual work to show what kindness is."

They take their lessons out into the community, feeding the less fortunate with vegetables grown in their hydroponic garden and cutting and sewing blankets for the homeless. After their acts of kindness, they take time to reflect on the good work they’ve done. 

"It obviously makes them feel good," she said. "Whenever they do something kind for others it makes them feel good. It's drawing their attention to how they feel."

For Matteo, a fourth-grade student, kindness means inclusion.

"Kindness means no one is being excluded, everyone is getting along together and it makes everyone happy," Matteo said.

Ayelea hopes her kindness is contagious. 

"It's important because the more kindness you give, the more kindness you get in return. And the more kindness you give, the more the world will turn into a better place," she said.

They're big concepts for such little kids, but these fourth graders get it. It doesn't even matter if others aren't nice. These students are prepared to always be kind. 

"Take the high road. You never know whats going on in someone's personal life. You dont know how its impacting them that day," said Allison. "But you can control your own actions and your own words and we do that with kindess."