CARBONDALE (WSIL) -- For the last year, this kindergarten class has been going out of their way to make others feel better, like sticking positive messages up and down the halls of Parrish Elementary.
"What did you think about posting the kind words up and down the hall?" asks kindergarten teacher Rebecca Korb.
Her student, Willow, responds with a smile.
"I thought it was fun."
Their class has been selected as January's winner of the WSIL Classroom Kindness Challenge, something co-teachers Rebecca Korb and Ericka Weston say has helped them focus on their social skills.
"Yeah, since August we've been working on those social skills, and so with this challenge, it really just put an extra "oomph" on things for us," explains Weston.
"And as the students completed the challenge, they would put the little square that had their name, and the teacher signed off saying that they did this challenge, and they put it on the poster, and then we had displayed the poster outside in the hall, so others could see the challenge that we were participating in," adds Korb.
But not all of their efforts are guided by a checklist.
As Willow's classmate, Mikhael, knows, sometimes it's as simple as doing the right thing.
"I was walking outside and I saw someone fall down, and I helped him up."
Weston says focusing on social skills can pay dividends when it comes to grades.
"You know, learning how to treat others as you would like to be treated. That sets the foundation for lots of growth academically, and so we have to tend to those social needs first, in order to even reach the kids, you know, to teach them."
"I think, overall, the classes learn to respect each other and their differences and to be kind to one another more," says Korb.
Weston says respecting each other's differences is especially important for this class, which is split between general education and special education students.
"You know, showing kindness, showing empathy towards those who may look different, may have different physical abilities, as well as academic abilities, and this kinda puts us all on the same playing field. You know, we want to be treated nicely, so we treat others nicely as well, and so this challenge fit perfectly with our school, with our classroom dynamics, and so this was awesome."
Know a teacher that would like to be a part of our Classroom Kindness Challenge? Click here.