ENCOURAGE: have you filled a bucket today?
by: Cinnamon Lynn
photo by: Cinnamon Lynn
Like a pebble tossed into a pond, forth grade Washington Elementary teacher Peppi Cline started a ripple effect she could never imagine when she chose to read a special book on the first day of school. Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Merrill Lundgren is a book that encourages the modeling of kindness, appreciation, and love on a daily basis. Cline's students absorbed the goodness of the message and shared it with their families.
The excitement carried over to art teacher Shirley Vanlwarden, who wanted to encourage a school wide effort of "filling buckets." She and principal Janice Zeiler provided real buckets for every classroom, which were uniquely decorated by the class. Teachers shared the story with their classes and encouraged students to write down every time their own buckets were filled (i.e. they were shown kindness or encouragement) and drop the papers in the class bucket.
Laminated, computer-drawn buckets can be found gracing the walls of Washington School these days. Above a water fountain, a student-drawn picture with multicolored hearts floating in it asks the reader, "Have you filled a bucket yet?" During morning announcements, Zeiler encourages students to keep their buckets full by appreciating others. The crossing gaurds smile as each student tells them thank you for helping them cross the street. School secretary Judy Maestas greets visitors, children and teachers with a smile and asks how they are.
Jennifer Taylor, mother of Washington student, was so touched by her son's gesture one evening that she shared the experience with VanIwarden.
"I had a really down day and my son, Anthony, came home from school and noticed. He then said, 'mom you can have some of what is in my bucket.'" Anthony then explained to his mother what he was learning at school.
"It was beautiful!" Jennifer said. "the littlest things can really make you happy."
VanIwarden received another email: " I had a super bad day yesterday and was really down, just feeling yucky. When we got home from school, Ben came up to me and put his hand on my arm and asked, 'mom did someone dip into you bucket today?' (kids are so intuitive sometimes). I told him that my bucket had in fact been dipped into and he replied with a, 'I'm so sorry, mom.' Gotta love that kid!"