The Sylvanian You Need To Know — FIRST OCT 2018

Tara Stoll and Danielle Schroeder ~ Be Kind Foundation
–by Mary Helen Darah

Tara Stoll and Danielle Schroeder believe that it is cool to be kind. The two parents met at St. Joseph’s School in Sylvania. Schroeder has four children and Stoll has three. “Tara and I found very quickly after our boys met in kindergarten that we had many things in common. Both of us have the common desire to help our children and all children have a happy and healthy childhood and school experience. After countless cups of coffee and conversations over the problem of meanness and bullying in our world, we decided to stand together and try and make a difference. I have a Master’s degree in Education and Tara has a degree in Journalism, so it was very fitting that we could develop this program in a professional and effective manner. We wanted to make a difference and came up with an idea to have a pro-social program that teaches kids about kindness instead of anti-bullying. What we found the most disturbing was that programs tend to focus on the kids that are doing negative behaviors. The kids that are being victimized are pushed to the side and told to ‘turn the other cheek.’ We wanted to empower the victim and go about things from a positive angle,” stated Schroeder.


Empower them with kindness
The two women created a program utilizing local teachers to help write lesson plans for the kindness program. Each lesson meets the ASCA Mindsets & Behaviors for Student Success, which are the National Guidance Counselor standards. The program has 11 topics that are presented in the classroom each month. “We have 13 schools, some outside of Ohio, that have a Be Kind Coordinator to implement the program. They decide if they want parent volunteers, teachers, or a guidance counselor to run the program. It is whatever works best for them,” stated Schroeder. The first lesson includes ‘kindness’ mail. Kids are given the names of two peers in their classrooms to write to using messages of kindness and encouragement. “We then go back in about a week and deliver the messages to the kids. Those kids cannot wait to get the messages from their peers,” stated Schroeder. “The ‘chalk out’ also coincides with the first lesson. Children were asked to write messages of courage, kindness, and inspiration in chalk. The entire blacktop was covered. It was beautiful to see.”

Love yourself
The program also encourages children to embrace their uniqueness. “When they appreciate what makes them distinctive and are proud of who they are, they will be more likely to stand up for themselves when a situation arises,” said Stoll. Schroeder believes that when a bully attempts to make fun of a child, it will not be as effective when they are proud of who they are. “So much of bullying is finding that little hole of vulnerability to get to that child. We try to fill that opening,” she stated. The program also addresses having the courage to stand up for themselves and others when necessary. “Other lessons follow an order that makes sense,” explained Stoll. “At the end of the program, they will have learned strategies of what being courageous means through art activities, large and small group discussion, and dramatizations. The program keeps kids engaged and covers a wide range of learning abilities and grade level appropriate material. If a kid starts out in kindergarten, by the time they finish the 5th grade, they will have had 66 lessons on kindness. Lessons cover everything from how to write a thank you note to how to be a good friend,” stated Schroeder. “We also have a lesson about generosity. Kids are given pencils and other trinkets. Some are given many items while others are given a few. We had a kid who got only one item and gave that item away. We then could take that example of selflessness and discuss it further in the lesson.”

A kind future
Both women would love to see their program utilized worldwide. “The message is simple, BE KIND, and here’s how to do it,” stated Stoll. “We recently selected our first BKF grant winner. This grant is incredibly important to our mission because it continues the cycle of kindness that we address and teach in our 11 monthly lessons. This grant is awarded to one student at each BKF school each year. Students are nominated, judged and a winner is selected. That child is then afforded the opportunity to pick a charity of their choice as a recipient. The Be Kind First Foundation writes the check to the charity of their choice. They get to present the check to the charity, in one student’s case, The Victory Center. Simply by being the great kids they are, they are helping hundreds of people as well as being an example to their peers. They are the future and we know that kindness, often thought to be unpopular, will be universally known as ‘cool.’”

For more information about Be Kind First visit or email

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