TSGC shows off school, Kindness Project to Alabama Teacher of the Year

ALABASTER- The 2016-2017 Alabama Teacher of the Year Dana Jacobson paid a visit to the Thompson Sixth Grade Center to observe the school’s teaching methods and environment on Wednesday, May 3. Jacobson, who has spent the year touring different schools and districts around the state, said she was impressed with what she saw at TSGC.

“I’ve heard so many wonderful things about the school and the principal, Dr. Steele,” Jacobson said. “There’s a culture here of family, support, achievement and togetherness. This school feels like I have walked into a home where everyone has a family. The core values seem to be embodied in everything they do.”

Jacobson said she admired TSCG Principal Daniel Steele’s dedication to making each student feel safe and welcome at school.

“Culture and climate are the key things in any school. He knows his school and he is a powerful role model,” Jacobson said.

“It’s important for us to always have a positive environment. We want kids to learn, but we also want them to have fun every day,” Steele said.

Steele said he was honored to have Jacobson touring his school.

“[Jacobson] doesn’t win awards like she has by accident. She is an awesome teacher who has been invested in making a difference,” Steele said.

Steele also thanked TSGC students, faculty and staff for creating a school environment they all can be proud of.

“How awesome are my kids and teachers? It’s not at every school that the principal is proud of every single teacher. No educator got into teaching to raise test scores. We came here to change these kids’ lives,” Steele said.

According to Steele, one of the things he was proudest to show Jacobson was the school’s Kindness Project, which aims to promote friendships between different students. Steele said this is the first time the school has ever implemented anything like the Kindness Project.

“We want to be the kindest school in the state,” Steele said.

For the first part of the Kindness Project, teachers rewarded students for any act of kindness by displaying their name in the wall, and adding a ball to the ball pit that was built by TSGC Maintenance Technician Jasper Carden.

TSGC administrators and counselors are currently selecting students to partner up and hang out together in the ball pit for a few minutes while answering questions about themselves.

“It’s a way of building friendships. No one can be cool in a ball pit. When you get in a ball pit, you can’t have an attitude. It’s disarming,” Steele said.

Beard said she hopes the Kindness Project will leave a lasting impression on students.

“All year, we’ve been trying to validate other people’s kindness and treatment of each other,” TSGC Counselor Sue Beard said. “I hope that these kids will always remember the ball pit and the Kindness Project.”