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If there’s one silver lining that’s come out of last week’s tragedy in Parkland, Florida, it’s the beautiful resiliency of America’s kids. Children from elementary to high schools around the nation are responding with positivity, unity, and hope for progress. One school in Arlington, Texas is showing its true colors this week with the coolest bathrooms I’ve ever seen. And the students think so, too.
Mary Moore Elementary School is home to 900 students from grades Pre-K to 6th. Principal Tyson Jones tells Babble that the school theme is happiness, based on a book called The Happiness Advantage by Dr. Shawn Achor.
“We have a wonderful campus with a family feel, and our teachers work very hard for our students,” Jones says. “With the stresses of state testing and the high workload, I wanted to incorporate ‘happiness’ as our theme, so we could take time to find joy in all that we do.”
He also says that to spread the feeling of happiness throughout the building, “Teachers and students have spread inspirational messages around the school, and we’ve also added happiness challenges into staff meetings (reconnect with an old friend, take a personal day for YOU, share things that made you happy this week, etc.).”
What a novel concept — one needed by both teachers and students as our nation recovers from yet another tragedy in which children were lost. Now more than ever, it’s important for all principals and educators to unite with their students through positivity and hope.
So what better place to spread happiness? Why, the students’ bathrooms of course! As shared in a Facebook post on February 19 that’s now been shared nearly 80,000 times, parent volunteers painted inspirational words of encouragement on the bathroom stalls recently. And the results are breathtaking.
Principal Jones shares with Babble that the idea was originally thought of by a group of 5th-grade parents weeks ago. However, “the timing with the Florida shooting has definitely made the message have a little more meaning. As we struggle to understand the ‘why’ behind the tragedy, extra kindness and hope is helpful to all,” he says.
As students hear their parents and teachers talk about the shooting or hear debates about guns on the news, they are probably scared. They are probably confused and wondering what their future looks like in this big, unsafe world. But maybe reading statements like “Your mistakes don’t define you”, “You will move mountains”, and “Let your light shine” will provide some comfort and hope when they enter their bathroom at school.
School. A place where they should feel safe. And happy. Well, Tyson Jones and his staff know that although they cannot guarantee their students’ safety, or happiness, they can certainly do their best — with acts of kindness and love like this.
As shared on Love What Matters, the project took 37 hours of labor from Mary Moore Elementary School parents. The first steps were to sand down all surfaces and then paint the stalls black. Then, their creativity was able to shine through.
Principal Jones tells Babble that “local businesses (Sherwin-Williams, Home Depot, Great Oak Dental, & JC Nails donated all paint/materials, along with monetary donations from parents)” to make the project a success.
And a success it is! “The kids have been thrilled! They’re very proud, and have definitely taken ownership. They’ve bragged about them all week,” Jones says.
“Kindness changes everything,” one stall reads. And Mary Moore Elementary is certainly proving that to be true.