City Connects Coordinator Shannon Underwood needed a way to boost students’ morale in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Her students were back at Immaculate Conception Parish School in Revere, Mass., in person and full time. They were wearing masks, using hand sanitizer, and sitting behind plexiglass shields that had been attached to each of their desks. Afterschool programs had been cancelled because of Covid. And work with the school’s community partners had been curtailed.
So Underwood implemented the idea of naming a “Tiger of the Week,” a student who demonstrated excellence through service to others. Students get a certificate and a small trophy. A tiger is the school’s mascot.
“I wanted to incentivize random acts of kindness,” Underwood says.
The result? Everyone is getting in on the act. Students look for ways to be kind, boosting the school’s climate. Parents donate candy for the Tigers. A mom dresses up as a Tiger to present the award. And one student even made an award, naming Underwood the Tiger of the Week.
Behind the candy, costumes, and warm feelings is a vital social/emotional lesson: even in the worst of times individuals and communities can be together and be at their best. It’s a joyful way of implementing the City Connects model, by limiting the impacts of the pandemic and other out-of-school factors to help children care for one another and thrive in school.