Kindness Zone | Crossroads School

Our founder, Jordie, on her first day at school! Fun fact: Jordie was homeschooled, so this was legitimately her first day inside of a public grade school.

Our founder, Jordie, on her first day at school! Fun fact: Jordie was homeschooled, so this was legitimately her first day inside of a public grade school.

In the earliest days of Compassion Cards, I remember wanting to be in schools so badly. I had this dream that our simple little cards could cause ripples of empowerment to the students in our public school system. Eventually, those ripples could turn into a shift of culture, where schools could become so much more than just a place we have to go from 8 to 3, but a place we can go to be built up and to build each other up.

Although we continued to grow in many ways as an organization, it didn’t seem like school programming was on the horizon for us. We plunged into every opportunity that came our way, and schools just weren’t a part of that for the first five years. Out of no where, we were presented with the opportunity to do a few programs inside of a school within the Norfolk Public School system. I WAS ELATED.

In all the hustle and bustle of the last couple of years, that dream of working in the schools was definitely on the back-burner. I didn’t know how to get there, and it wasn’t the opportunity in front of us for so long. Suddenly, it was the opportunity in front of us. What a gift!

Things happened fast, and within a couple of weeks, we were gearing up for our first day of school!

We had the honor of working with students at Crossroads School in Norfolk this past Monday, and the Friday prior. It was everything I dreamed it would be and more! I had the opportunity to teach 5 classes each day, and got to speak with hundreds of incredible students, of all different ages, who just need to be loved and heard.

With each group, we made things personal. I didn’t just want to sit there and demand their attention, I wanted them to want to be attentive. I started each class by introducing myself, and asking them to introduce themselves. One by one, I learned a new name, and a new favorite color or animal or holiday. I made new friends, many of whom were eager to share about their lives, interests, feelings, and more. I asked each group if they’d ever felt sad or just exhausted. I asked them what made them feel better when they’re down, and what they could do to help others feel better. We spent time listening to each other, and ultimately, creating hundreds of cards that will be circulated in their school to help build a culture of kindness and compassion.

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It’s not about these kids knowing what Compassion Cards is, it’s about them knowing that their words matter. It’s not about them following us on Instagram or Twitter, it’s about them realizing that they already have what it takes to empower another human being, and to lift someone up. It’s not about me getting to do my dream, it’s about them feeling safe enough to share, and loved enough to try again. It was so much fun to watch these kids Dab and Floss their way through the creative process of Compassion Cards.

I left a richer woman, both in my understanding of students, and in my knowledge of dance moves from Fortnite.

I could go on talking about this for days!! Here are a few highlights!

  • In multiple classes, there were students in attendance who have special needs. I remember being nervous because this was uncharted territory for us. I didn’t know how to be relatable, and I didn’t want to mess up or leave anyone out. It turns out that I didn’t need to be worried, because love is always relevant. I was so excited to see the aids helping all the students be involved. They drew some lovely art on their cards, and their aids added some encouraging words to the cards they created.

  • In several groups, there were students who only spoke/understood/read/wrote Spanish. We had several bi-lingual students, along with myself and our volunteers, step up to help with translating, making sure that our Spanish-speaking friends could be an equal part of what we were doing. Before we knew it, the students in our classes were sharing with us that there were students in other classes at their school who spoke French. Before you knew it, we had cards in all different languages being written! It was so special to see even the youngest students copying French and Spanish sentiments for their fellow classmates!

  • Another highlight was just being able to see the creativity flourish. These kids made beautiful artwork, and also came up with such empowering things to say to other students. Many of the students also took cards home for their families. It was really cool to see how much concern they had for their families - wanting them to receive the encouragement, too!

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This whole experience was truly so good. I am so proud of the students for being aware of the diversity within their school, and wanting to do something to include everyone right where they’re at - not making them conform to a certain structure or pattern. I am so proud of our team here at Compassion Cards for always being ready to explore new things, and for cultivating an environment where sharing, feelings, and inclusivity are all good things.

I learned so much more than I taught.

We got to create a Kindness Zone in the school, so students having a bad day can get a card to encourage them. Or, if they see another student having a rough day, they can go to the Kindness Zone and get a card to give them! I love the way this board turned out! These kids are so kind, creative, and empowering. I am so proud of them!!

Jordie and Dr. Jennings at the Kindness Zone!

Jordie and Dr. Jennings at the Kindness Zone!

The Crossroads Kindness Zone!

The Crossroads Kindness Zone!

Before I go, I want to give a special shout out to our wonderful volunteers, Carol, Joe, Becca, Kaity, and Jeannie, for volunteering in different ways to make this happen! I couldn’t have made it through those long days on my feet without all of you! Also - while we’re talking about long days - shout out to teachers. I have mad respect for y’all, and it’s only increased as I’ve gotten a very tiny taste of what it’s like to be in your shoes. Thank you so much for all that you do; I cannot imagine the scope of things you encounter! Thank you for loving students, for risking your live to protect them, and for caring about what happens to them. Finally, thank you so much to the Assistant Principal, Dr. Jennings, for inviting us into Crossroads, and being such a light to this school!

Okay - I’m gonna go cry all my happy/grateful/humbled tears now!! :)

Jordie DiFernando
Founder + CEO

Jordan DiFernando