Kindness 101 and the six pillars of character

HARLINGEN — “Hello everyone, and welcome to Kindness 101.”

That friendly and uplifting voice from Steve Hartman has become familiar on the Travis Elementary School’s Facebook page in the past few weeks. Counselor Sandy Garza arranged to have Hartman’s “Kindness” lessons posted for students when the district closed the campuses in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“ I asked Mrs. Rangel if I could start doing something for the kids to remind them of the character traits we’re working on,” said Garza.

And of course Principal Beulah Rangel gave her the thumbs up and is pleased with the result.

“ Ms. Garza has done a fabulous job supporting our students and families by sharing counseling videos that we hope will help them cope with all the uncertainties they are experiencing,” Rangel said. “We know it is a difficult time. We want our families and our students to know that they are not alone and we are here to help them and support them any way we can.”

Steve Hartman’s easy delivery brings kids quickly into his kindness narratives.

“ Today we’re going to talk about courage,” he said in a video last week, gesturing to his daughter who held up a sign.

“ The C’s a little cut off,” said his young son.

“ Yeah, it’s a little cut off, but they get the idea,” Hartman said. “What does that mean, courage?”

Yesterday another one of Hartman’s videos showed up on Travis’ page, this one about Friendship. Instead of Hartman appearing right away, his daughter held a sign that read, “Kindness 101 will begin shortly.”

“ My dad is working on something,” she says. “It probably won’t be too long.”

Garza has posted a few humorous videos from other sources but she prefers Hartman’s pieces.

“ I think because he incorporates his children the kids can relate to that a little bit more,” she said.

She’s right.

“ The videos are amazing!” said third grader Joaquin Pena.

“ I loved the one on courage,” he said. “It shows you real kids showing courage in different ways. It’s amazing.”

His mother Mindy Pena agreed.

“ All of the character education videos are inspiring and so helpful during this time at home,” she said. “They are a nice, feel good, positive break from all the scary things that our kids are hearing on TV.”

This is an online extension of the character building the counselors do with the kids at school.

“ We do character ed within our school district for the elementary,” Garza said. “We kind of want to get the kids when they’re early and build their character foundation on the six pillars of character ed.”

Those six pillars are: respect, citizenship, trustworthiness, kindness, courage, and perseverance.