Teaching Kindness Beautifully

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Submitted by Jessica Anderson & Laurie Mason

Kate Lapetino is ONEderful!  

“In a world where you can be anything, be kind!” is a motto that represents fourth grade teacher, Kate Lapetino. As her teammates, Laurie Mason (left) and Jessica Anderson (right), we nominate Kate (center) as our "One". Kate is a fantastic, motivated, energetic, kind, teacher at Eugene Field Elementary School in Wheeling, Illinois. She has been the leading force to strive to spread kindness during our 4th grade and 4/5 Social Emotional Learning block at our school, which has spread to other schools in our district, to our Wheeling community, and beyond! 

Teachers are just supposed to organize and prepare their own classrooms, right? Not Kate! She not only got her classroom ready this past summer, but also did something pretty amazing with a common staff area. At the beginning of the school year, she decided to give our teachers’ lounge and work room a facelift. No one asked her or was complaining about the lounge/workroom. This was something she wanted to do for the staff. She and a co-worker, Amy Helms, brainstormed ideas for how to liven up the space. This was all done on her own time, with her own money. On a Friday night back in August 2017, Kate and Amy worked relentlessly to get the lounge and workroom ready. When teachers arrived Monday morning, they were amazed at what they saw! Colorful and positive posters, organized bins and papers, and even pictures of staff families hanging on the walls! There is even a staff shout out board for us to recognize the amazing things we are all doing at Field School! She made the space wonderful and made us all feel like a family at Field School!

Kate created a weekly kindness challenge project for the 4th grade students this year. Every week, students are given a different challenge to complete. Holding the door for someone, letting someone cut you in line, and sharing a smile with someone are just a few of the challenges Kate came up with. Once students complete the kindness task, they pass the card into the hands of another person, in the hopes that they will pay it forward and continue spreading kindness. These kindness challenge cards have reached people in California, Washington, Tennessee, New York, and even the Philippines! How do we know this? Because Kate created a social media hashtag: #fieldkindness. Check it out!

On November 13, 2017, Kate organized an incredible project for World Kindness Day. We, Laurie and Jessica, were welcomed to school with a copy of the plaque seen in the photograph, which was secretly put on our desks by Kate. The “Be Kind” shirts we are wearing were traced by Kate and Jessica and donated to students by our PTO. Kate, Jessica and Laurie all received food donations to provide snacks and lunch at Field Elementary, London Middle, and our administration building. Our students carried out the mission of delivering the treats and placing encouraging notes on all middle school students’ lockers.

At London Middle School, Kate, the leader of this amazing day, was interviewed and quoted in the Chicago Tribune: "I'm so proud of and inspired by our students and the positive impact they are making by spreading kindness throughout our community," said Kate Lapetino, fourth grade teacher at Field Elementary School. "The students are so motivated by each weekly challenge because they see how a small gesture can be meaningful to someone else."

On February 15, 2018, Kate and Jessica shared a Random Acts of Kindness Video with the whole school during the school talent show they hosted. Kate initiated the idea of changing the lyrics from Shakira’s “Try Everything” to Field 4th/5th grade’s “Be Kind in Everything”. Each class did a portion of the video, and Kate organized the four classes together to do one portion as a team. The video is posted on YouTube in hopes of inspiring others to BE KIND. Watch and enjoy: "Be Kind in Everything"

On Saturday, February 17, some students and staff will be celebrating Random Acts of Kindness Day by visiting Addolorata Villa Senior Living in Wheeling. Kate initiated this project back in November. Our students will play games, complete crafts, and hold conversations with the senior residents. Students will also bring cards they created as part of our Weekly Kindness Challenge to share with the residents. Kate’s idea was loved so much that the orchestra teacher, Lauren Wargaski, wanted to include her orchestra students as well! They will play several songs. It is going to be a wonderful day spreading kindness at Addolorata Villa!

Our Kate will not stop with Random Acts of Kindness Day! She has multiple kindness events in the works for the second half of the school year. We are all excited to join in and help Kate continue to spread kindness to all! She is an inspiration to the entire Field Staff, Field students, and even her community. She is kind in and out of the classroom, always thinking of others and putting others first. She offers kind words and extra sweet words of encouragement. Kate always gives thoughtful, simple, surprise gifts (like the beautiful plaques we received). She is a fantastic friend, marvelous mother to her two children, and wonderful wife to her husband.

Kate Lapetino is the kindest “ONE” around! Go BE KIND and nominate her as the “ONE”! Kate truly deserves to be the “ONE”!

#fieldkindness

Nominated by: Jessica Anderson & Laurie Mason

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