“I’ll be there for you.”
It’s a line most often associated with the popular sitcom “Friends,” though Pershing Elementary School is using it as an inspirational message for its students and staff. Coupled with a bulletin board featuring images closely related to the show’s iconic “Central Perk” coffee shop, the school’s Pershing Perk celebrates acts of kindness among the children.
“Pershing Perk was born of the idea that we are a family here at Pershing,” Tabitha Blevins, the principal at the school, said. “Kindergarten teachers … came up with the idea that we would say, ‘I’ll be there for you’ (as our theme). They did that because last year was a difficult year for Pershing for many of the staff, and they wanted to start the year on a positive note.”
Students, teachers and staff who witness acts of kindness can write that child’s name on a paper note in the shape of a cup that is placed on the bulletin board.
Another kindness initiative has students taking Post-it notes and writing nice things that they see or do and placing them in the principal’s mailbox for her to read.
“You don’t get anything from it, but it just feels good when you do something like that,” Pershing student Phoenix Wood said. “When you help people up or bring them up, you feel better than if you bring them down.”
Blevins said the students and staff are keeping these initiatives alive through their actions, and she has seen the effects both in the hallway and in the classroom.
“I hope that our students know the value of kindness and friendship skills. They require our support and our modeling as adults as they navigate the waters of childhood and by recognizing that kindness is a skill, we can cultivate it and build it up,” Blevins said. “This is a way to focus on all of the good things that are happening and that it requires us to be intentional with focusing on the positive.”