A tradition of strong academics has always been a focus at Tommie Barfield Elementary (TBE), but teaching our students to value one another and creating a culture of kindness and respect are qualities that will last them a lifetime. Walking through the halls of TBE, you will see examples of student work that exemplify what giving their best academically can look like. What might not be so easy to see from the hallways is the community that our teachers build in their classroom and the opportunities that our students have to become leaders, learning the impact that a simple act of kindness can have.
Fourth grade students Joaquin Perez and Evelyn Vizcaya not only understand the value of putting others first, but they have a desire to want to help! These two students each set a goal for themselves: grow their hair long enough to donate and give it to an organization that would use the hair to make wigs for kids with cancer.
When asked where the idea and motivation to take on such a challenge came from, Joaquin explained, “I just want to help these kids be like other kids and I don’t want them to be picked on.” Joaquin shared that he does not want kids fighting cancer to be scared to come to school and that helping to provide a wig could make them feel better.
Evelyn shared that she could easily grow her hair back after cutting it off and that she wanted to help others who can’t do the same. Both students shared connections to knowing someone who battled cancer and although it may not have been a child, they were able to understand the difficulty and fear that a kid may experience being at school and feeling different than other students.
With the support of their mothers, Joaquin and Evelyn were able to conduct research and find local salons on Marco Island that would not only cut their hair, but help to make sure their donation was used to provide a wig for a child fighting cancer.
It is my honor to serve as principal of Tommie Barfield Elementary. This 2018-2019 school year, like all schools across the District, we have put an emphasis on Social Emotional Learning (SEL) and ways children can learn grit and resilience to persevere through life’s challenges. Social awareness, the ability to have empathy and respect for others, is one key element of SEL. These students, Joaquin and Evelyn, are leading by example and using their actions to model a heart of compassion and kindness. They did not set out with a need for recognition, but rather a desire to help. They hope that sharing their story will inspire and challenge others to help, and they hope to demonstrate the positive impact that kids can have. All it takes is nine inches of hair and a little bit of patience to make a big difference.