The Corporate Landing Middle School Counselors are spreading the sunshine with a new initiative called, “What’s up, JAK?” JAK is an acronym that stands for Jets Acting Kindly, and it is a program that focuses on the positive impact someone can have on their environment.
So far, students have caught on very quickly to the program and its goals: focusing on the positive, and acknowledging themselves as having control of the halls they walk into each day. Overall, the Guidance Team hopes that JAK will go with the students to High School and beyond; allowing this generation of students to be more responsible for their interactions more than ever before.
The idea was born last year when a seventh- grade counselor Cindy Dull, began passing out random act of kindness cards to her (then) sixth-grade students. These cards challenged students to practice a random act of kindness and gave them a specific random act to complete. Her students enjoyed the activity and looked forward to the next round each time. The success of this activity prompted Corporate Landing’s Guidance Director Ebony Granby to suggest to the counseling team that it be incorporated into a school-wide program geared towards unity and respect.
Granby, Dull, Stephanie Filio (eighth-grade counselor), Amanda Yoder (military student counselor), and Victoria Lang (sixth-grade counselor) broadened the kindness idea, and thought of other components that would make it a complete, comprehensive, school-wide program.
After finding a catchy name that would bring relevance and youth to draw students in, JAK was born! Branding the program has been easy, by incorporating it into everything the counseling department does.
True to it’s roots, once a week, each grade-level counselor passes out random acts of kindness to students. Counselors are also creating lesson plans based on creating a better school environment, hanging posters in the cafeteria, posting positive messages in the halls, promoting self-care for teachers and staff and encouraging students to remember respect with their teachers and peers.
Even in its infancy, this program is seeing huge success. Students are discussing the random acts that they have completed, most students already know what JAK stands for, and several students have begun getting involved by writing their own random acts, or asking to develop groups for confidence building and friendship.
The CLMS school counselors feel that this program is catching on quickly because it differs from other anti-bullying campaigns by focusing on the positive instead of the negative. Instead of only discussing how to react to the negative behavior of others, it challenges students to preempt negative adolescent social responses with respectful and productive outlooks every day. They believe that allowing the students the efficacy to make change empowers them to make better decisions.
JAK aims to promote a positive school climate by encouraging an atmosphere where students feel free and safe to engage in active learning.