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The Middle School Kindness Challenge

Sharon Contreras, superintendent of Guilford County, N.C., Schools accepted the Middle School Kindness Challenge earlier this school year for her district.

She described what that meant to her schools during a session at AASA’s national conference in Nashville on Thursday.

Contreras was joined by her colleague Charlos Banks, executive director of student services and character development. Daniel O’Donnell, national outreach director for Stand for Children, provided an overview of the Middle School Kindness Challenge and demonstrated how educators can navigate through the program.

According to Contreras, 25 percent of middle school students in the United States are bullied in classrooms, hallways and the cafeteria and 1.2 million middle school students are chronically absent because they are bullied in schools.

“This is a program that focuses on teacher behavior and helps students learn about kindness,” said Contreras. “I am excited that teachers really have believed in the Middle School Kindness Challenge in my district, and the students enjoy participating it. We have seen an increase in empathy and a decrease in behavioral issues such as suspensions.”

AASA is a lead partner with the Middle School Kindness Challenge, spearheaded by Stand for Children. It is a free way to foster social and emotional development and improve school climate during the critical middle school years. Teaching children how to be more empathetic and manage their emotions and actions helps make them be better equipped to navigate our world.

Districts can sign up for the Spring 2018 Challenge from now through May 15 at

“The Challenge is meant to have lasting impact,” said O’Donnell. “Stand for Children is working with leading social and  emotional providers to get the best classroom activities that any school with a combination of grades 4-8 can utilize. Kindness should be a permanent part of a school’s culture.”

Contreras and Banks revealed how their school district used this opportunity to help students apply what they learned through the Middle School Kindness Challenge .

“After the hurricanes in Texas, Florida and Puerto Rico, our district had a campaign to raise 33,000 dollars to the students impacted in the hurricanes,” said Banks. “The students who participated in the Challenge skyped with children in the impacted hurricane districts. “  (See one of the skype sessions at


(Rebecca Shaw is a reporter for Conference Daily Online.)

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