Learning is about more than just reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmatic at Mohegan School. You can now add a healthy dose of kindness to the daily routine.
Thanks to its participation in the Look for the Good Gratitude Project, Principal Kristen Santilli said her students — from preschoolers to fourth graders — have let their compassionate, generous and enthusiastic sides burst forth, both inside Mohegan and out in the community.
What started as a 10-day program — during which students made videos and displayed sticky notes and beautiful artwork throughout the school to announce to the world what they are grateful for — became a larger experience for the children, according to Santilli, with the incorporation of an “at home” component.

“The benefit I see here is that this has gone beyond the 10 days,” said Santilli. “The students are still applying "what they learned about being grateful, kind and good citizens to one another. It has been a truly incredible experience watching these students be kind and generous to each other.”
The at-home project, according to Santilli, had students obtaining cash pledges from friends and family to perform random acts of kindness. Students did various acts, including donating hair to Locks of Love; writing letters of appreciation to police and firefighters; creating care packages for children in the hospital; creating place mats for Meals on Wheels; surprising another family with a home-cooked meal; and writing a letter to a soldier in the Wounded Warrior Project thanking him for his service.
In all, the students raised $2,285 for the school — and in meeting this goal came the excitement of “sliming” a few hand-picked Mohegan School teachers during a special assembly Tuesday, Feb. 19, honoring the students’ hard work.
This year, students and faculty cheered as Gavi Ziu-Pires, Patrick Sullivan, Lauren Reynolds and Ashleigh D’Addio all got homemade slime dumped on them in the school gymnasium in celebration of the children’s hard work over the past few weeks.
Originally founded in 2011 by Anne Kubitsky as a public art project, the Look for the Good Project has transformed into a nonprofit organization to imprint lifelong patterns of optimism in schoolchildren.
The program is based off the broaden-and-build theory in positive psychology. The project is designed to reverse some of the negative impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and broaden students’ awareness to a wider range of positive thoughts and actions.

According to the Look for the Good Project website, not only does this work make students more constructive and creative, but it also builds life resources which make them more resilient. Researchers report that grateful kids are happier, more satisfied with their lives, more generous, more cooperative, and more likely to use their strengths to better their communities.
Since Kubitsky launched the kindergarten through sixth grade school program in 2016, more than 120,000 students in 30 states have written almost two million messages of gratitude to uplift their communities. And Santilli says she plans to continue this program throughout the remainder of the school year with special gratitude days.
brian.gioiele@"hearstmediact.com