Acts of Kindness

Hopkins Montessori School rings in its golden anniversary with a celebration of its core values.

In 1968, Hopkins Montessori School welcomed its inaugural class of preschoolers. Nearly 50 years later, the school is still thriving. Teachers, parents and, of course, students love the school for its warm, welcoming environment and its emphasis on kindness, inclusivity and deep love of learning. The upcoming academic year marks Hopkins Montessori’s 50th anniversary, and the school has big plans to celebrate.

Starting in early 2018, the Hopkins Montessori community has been working hard to plan an array of celebrations for its golden anniversary. Among the biggest is its Acts of Kindness initiative, which lead teacher Chris Harris says encompasses a wide range of generous services to others, both large and small.

“The children are doing a whole variety of things,” she says. “We have a poster in our classroom, [and] when a child does something kind for another, like helps to clean up a spill or put their boots on, teachers are very carefully choosing an act of kindness that is really exemplary, and the child’s name gets put on that poster board.”

That’s an everyday celebration of kindness, but the school has also done larger-scale service projects. This past winter, they made colorful felt bracelets and delivered them to children staying at the Ronald McDonald House in Minneapolis, and in the spring, made sandwiches for local homeless people through the Sandwich Project, a volunteer-led grassroots organization. Harris says even the youngest students have found joy in serving others.
“The children get really excited about purpose to their work. Sometimes they’re just doing it because it feels good—they want to move their hands; they want to explore things. But other times, you will see, even among the youngest 3- or 4-year-olds, their response to purpose in their learning and doing. It’s really cool to watch them do something for one another and just get the joy from giving and helping,” she says.

When school resumes this fall, the Hopkins Montessori community will celebrate with a Festival of Nations–themed birthday party in recognition of the school’s diversity. “Our school is really diverse; probably in part because Montessori is an international program, so there are schools all over the world. A lot of our families who are new to this country seek that out,” Harris says. “The last time we looked, we were representing five out of the seven continents within our school’s 30 families.”

Kindness and multiculturalism are two of Hopkins Montessori School’s core values, which parents say has made their families' experiences special. Kathleen Farrell, whose daughter is a student, says she was not only drawn to the Montessori model’s emphasis on child-led learning, but to the feel of Hopkins Montessori especially.

“I had previously toured different schools, but I just think that this school in particular is so nurturing,” she says. “They really foster an environment of inclusivity and friendship and kindness. The teachers are excellent communicators with both parents and kids, and they’re empathetic, and they’re really in tune with the children’s needs. That just radiated from them the moment that I stepped into the school.”