Spreading Kindness at Kernersville Elementary
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By Kim Underwood
Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools
OCTOBER 5, 2018 – At Kernersville Elementary, Sonya Smith invited her third-graders to write down some of their thoughts about bullying.
“My message was no bullying at our school,” said Kourtney Miner. “Kids need to be safe. If somebody is mean to them, they will cry.”
She knows what it’s like to have someone be mean. It happened to her in the second grade.
“I felt like I was going to cry,” Kourtney said.
Ashjanae Bowden said that she knows someone who is bullied will feel sad.
“I do not accept bullying,” Ashjanae said.
Smith used the papers her students had written to create a giant poster. After adding the headline “Rocking Against Bullying,” she put it up on a wall in the school cafeteria.
October is Bully and Drug Prevention Month for Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, and the poster is just one of many things that students and adults at Kernersville Elementary and other schools throughout the Winston-Salem/Forsyth County school district are doing to show they believe it’s important to show kindness to everyone every day.
On Wednesday, students and adults at Kernersville Elementary showed their intention to “Sock Out Cyberbullying” by wearing crazy socks.
Kernersville Elementary is a school filled with people treating others with kindness throughout the school year. An example of that came earlier this school year when Officer Heath Griffith, the school’s new SRO (School Resource Officer), escorted a nervous kindergartener to her class.
In the mornings, Griffith and other adults greet the students being dropped off by their families. With school being so new and all, one kindergartener was reluctant to leave the car.
“She was crying and didn’t want to get out,” Griffith said. “I said to her, ‘I will give you a police escort to your class.’ That made her smile.”
And then he did just that.
Principal Lora Tiano took a photo of them walking down the hall together.
“I tweeted it out,” Tiano said. “I love that we truly are a family here at Kernersville Elementary School. When any adult, regardless of their job description, sees a child who needs to be cared for, they step in and love that child.”
Griffith, who is with the Kernersville Police Department, has been a police officer for 25 years. This is his first year as an SRO, and he likes working at the school.
“Everything about this job makes me feel good,” Griffith said. “The kids appreciate you. I feel like I am making more of a difference than I ever have.”
On Wednesday morning, several other students from Smith’s class joined Kourtney and Ashjanae in the cafeteria to talk about bullying.
Alan Vega wants to be a police officer when he grows up. Having been bullied once, he knows what that feels like, and he doesn’t want anyone else to have to feel that way.
Abigail Spitzner doesn’t want anyone to be bullied either.
“Someone could get hurt if you bullied them,” Abigail said.
Kaleb Albright and his older brother were once bullied.
“They were calling us names,” he said.
They felt bad, and he doesn’t want anyone else to feel that way.
“Everybody in the school should feel safe,” Kaleb said.