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New rule at Douglas Gardens Elementary is making a positive difference at school

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Douglas Gardens Elementary School is implementing a new rule.

It's not one you'd typically see on a list of school rules, such as "no running in the hall," or "no cell phones in class."

But it is one that is making Douglas Gardens a positive place to be.

"You get to have a lot of friends that are nice, and are never mean, you guys never get into arguments," said Chase Mackay, fifth grader at Douglas Gardens. "It's great."

Sounds kind of like a utopia, right?

Well that's sort of what staff at Douglas Gardens Elementary School in Springfield are working for.

"And it was just something I felt we have an obligation to do," said Principal of Douglas Gardens, Carla Smith. "We know that when there's a positive school climate and culture, kids and teachers can focus more on academics."

Carla decided to implement teaching kindness in the classrooms.

"The staff just jumped on board; they loved the idea," said Carla. "They began the year with using a children's literature book of teaching kindness."

Carla said as the school year went on, school staff decided to make "being kind to one another" a school rule.

"We want students to help recognize that they play a part in their success and everyone else by being kind and sharing that kindness," said Carla.

The kindness shared at Douglas Gardens so far, has impacted students in a variety of ways -- like Alex Shores, fourth grader at Douglas Gardens, writing a welcome note to make a new student feel welcome.

"At my old school, people weren't kind to each other, but I still showed kindness to them," said Alex. "And, I just wanted to make sure that there was no bullying here."

And kindness for Samantha, a first grader at Douglas Gardens, means helping her classmate Mia who is learning the English language.

"Sometimes if I can I'll try to translate to different people if I know what she's saying, because I know some Spanish but not a lot," said Samantha.

"Very happy just to know that there are people here that want to make me feel so, so happy," said Mia.

The students tell us coming into a positive school environment makes it easier to focus on their education too.

"You can trust people around you," said third grader, Josahandy Lomle, "and you know that everybody will treat you equally and that nobody is different no matter what their skin color is, what their hair looks like."

"There's always someone there for you when you're in a tough time," said Josahandy.

Just like mathematics or English, Carla said kindness is just another tool she hopes the children can utilize off school grounds as well.

"Our goal as educators is really to reach beyond the school system; for kids to go out and become successful adults by being kind, and helping to impact society in a positive way," said Carla.

For the students at Douglas Gardens Elementary, and for fifth grader, Chase, the message is simple:

"treat people the way you want to be treated."

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