Serving Larchmont Village, Hancock Park, and the Greater Wilshire neighborhoods of Los Angeles since 2011.

Teaching Kindness and Caring at Third Street Elementary

Fifth-grade council members of Third Street School’s Make Kindness Common program that recognizes and rewards acts of kindness.

What if we as parents and teachers rewarded kindness like we do academic excellence, artistic or athletic achievement, wondered Jocelyn Minton, a Hancock Park resident and parent at Third Street School. Minton has always been interested in exploring social-emotional education programs that teach kindness and empathy because she believes we can really make a difference in the world if we can raise a generation of children taught to be kind, empathetic humans.

A year ago, she approached the principal of her children’s school, Third Street Elementary in Hancock Park, and asked how she could help the school with a program teaching kindness. To her delight, Principal Daniel Kim responded with enthusiasm, telling Minton to find a program and he would help make it happen. Minton found Making Caring Common developed by the School of Education at Harvard University designed to foster a positive, caring culture of kindness in schools. With Kim’s help, the program was introduced last year.

Now, in its second year, the program has won support from Principal Kim’s successor Helen Lee, a unanimous vote from all the teachers to participate in the program, and over 50 parents have volunteered to teach one thirty-minute lesson to students every month.

We caught up with Minton, last week on Larchmont before she was scheduled to pick up cookies at Levain Bakery. The cookies, donated by Levain Bakery, were going back to school for a cookie party rewarding the kindest classes with cookie parties. They are also conducting baking classes for select students who model exceptional kindness this year, explained Minton.

“Making Caring Common designed for grades K-12, MCC is more than a curriculum,” explained Minton, “It’s about changing how kids treat each other and teaching them how to care for one another by getting the whole community involved including parents, teachers, and students.”

Minton, who co-chairs the effort along with Marta Lucia Aguilar and Keely Gillman, told the Buzz she is most excited about having so many parents sign up to help lead classroom lessons. Getting parents involved is a wonderful way to model behavior for children and show that parents are serious about the subject. Volunteer parents are taught the lesson via a Zoom class with Harvard University faculty. This is the first time parents will be teaching the program so Harvard has made special arrangements to support Third Street parents.

“Almost 50 volunteers will start going into classrooms for our monthly lessons next week,” said Minton, who shared a lesson with us. “Some of the topics we will explore this year include inspiring kindness, listening deeply, community building, empathy, and understanding and navigating emotions.”

In addition, students are sent home with age-appropriate activities they can do with their families, and parents are given exercises/tips to practice at home that complement what is being taught in the classrooms.

Teachers and faculty also review every student to make sure they have two caring adult connections, and they identify the students who are at risk, explained Minton.

The school formed a Making Caring Common Student Council, composed of students from every Fourth and Fifth-grade class, this year they are hoping to also add Third graders.

“The students start the week with “Kindness Mondays” over the loudspeaker to all the classrooms and are meant to be role models, practicing kindness daily,” explained Minton. “All students are encouraged to seek out one of the council members if they want to talk to someone or have a problem.”

They are planning a “Kindness Challenge” to encourage kids to perform daily acts of kindness with rewards like Levain cookies or scoops of ice cream from Jeni’s and Baccio di Latte on Larchmont.

However, the recognition is not limited to the school community. Minton told us a retired LAUSD teacher volunteered her time to help our 3rd – 5th grade classes create kindness cards for community leaders, including firemen, policemen, hospital workers, etc. “The FBI LA bureau was so moved by the cards they received that they came to the school to meet with the students!” said Minton.

The school has set up a “Kindness Corner,” a designated area by the lunch tables with two boxes — one of the boxes is for students who want to reach out to the Making Caring Common Student Council and the other box is for “Acts of Kindness” where students submit acts of kindness that they’ve experienced. They utilize school spirit days as an opportunity to recognize students and teachers who model kindness. And finally, they are in the process of creating a “Kindness Wall Mural,” thanks to the efforts of a parent, an artist who has donated time to create the mural.

“We hope it will serve as a reminder and help to inspire and encourage caring for others on a daily basis,” said Minton.

When we reached out to Minton to learn more about the program, she was more than delighted to tell us about the kindness of local businesses that are supporting the efforts by donating rewards of various kinds.

These kind and generous local businesses have donated to Third Street Elementary’s Making Caring Common program:

    • Levain Bakery
    • Great White
    • Healing Hands
    • Salt & Straw
    • Jeni’s Ice Cream
    • Bacio di Latte Gelato
    • Bellacures
    • Groundwork Coffee
    • Peet’s Coffee
    • Holey Grail Donuts
    • Starbucks
    • Burger Lounge
    • Village Pizzeria
    • Angelini
    • Water Grill in Santa Monica
    • Viceroy Santa Monica
    • Pendry West Hollywood
    • JW Marriott Los Angeles L.A. LIVE
    • W Los Angeles

Minton wanted us to make a special note of the generous donation from local real estate broker Pete Buonocore of Core Group LA. In addition to his wife Helen signing up as a program volunteer, Buonocore is helping Minton create customized T-shirts for all 50 volunteer instructors.

They are currently in talks with the Los Angeles Dodgers to have an event at the school later this year. The response to the program has been very positive and they are encouraged that it will continue to build. Minton hopes the program can become part of every school.

“We need to scale this if we are really going to make an impact,” said Minton.

Third Street is the first LAUSD school to implement Harvard’s program so Minton and her fellow parent volunteers are taking careful notes and she’s more than happy to share details on what they are learning.

Jocelyn Minton and Marta Lucia Aguilar at a back-to-school event promoting the Making Caring Common program at Third Street Elementary.
Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard
Patricia Lombard is the publisher of the Larchmont Buzz. Patty lives with her family in Fremont Place. She has been active in neighborhood issues since moving here in 1989. Her pictorial history, "Larchmont" for Arcadia Press is available at Chevalier's Books.

Related Articles


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here


Latest Articles

.printfriendly { padding: 0 0 60px 50px; }