I had the honor of presenting the inaugural Derin C. Arac Kindness Week assemblies at Quarry Lane School in Dublin, CA. Derin was a much loved and respected teacher, friend, mentor and son at Quarry Lane, and Think Kindness was lucky enough to honor Derin’s memory with school-wide assemblies on February 12th, 2018.
After doing a little research, I quickly came to realize that nothing about Quarry Lane School was typical or ordinary. The campus was magnificent, and backed onto acres and acres of rolling, green hills. Students were given opportunities to innovate in robotics laboratories, express their artistic talent through visual and performing arts classes, and prepare for college life with an extensive International Baccalaureate Diploma program. Everyone at Quarry Lane was high-functioning, which creates a rich learning environment, however students that are high-functioning, can often beat themselves up for the smallest error or mistake, or for getting an A, instead of an A+ on a test.
I decided to base my assemblies on being kind to yourself, as self-compassion is something that needs to be practiced and woven into our daily routine, just like brushing teeth. Self-compassion and kindness to oneself, is rooted in keeping perspective especially when challenged. Instead of being reactive and emotional, stop, take 3 breaths, and make a proactive choice.
Being proactive is simpler than it may seem. It could mean making a phone call, asking someone for help, asking different questions to gather information, or taking any action that moves you closer to your goals, and further away from your anxiety.
I encouraged the students to be the best version of themselves, no matter what anyone else was doing around them, this was particularly important when it came to relationships and how we treat others. The only person we are ever in control of is ourselves, and when choosing to be proactive and making smart choices, no matter what, we not only build our characters, but we strengthen our relationships.
I shared this quote with the students, because when I heard it, it positively impacted my life, and I hoped that it would also impact theirs.
“What other people think of me, is none of my business”- Dr. Wayne Dyer
This is such a powerful statement for teens and kids to understand and apply to their own lives. Encouraging students to focus on themselves and their own choices shifts their focus onto more positive and empowering activities, while diminishing their fears and concerns about what their peers may be saying about them.
The students were ultimately challenged to perform and document as many random acts of kindness (RAK) as possible, and they chose to create a kindness chain that linked all acts together. In just 3 days, they completed 3,250 RAK and created a chain that spanned a huge area of the campus. All students put in a lot of effort, and inspired so much kindness across their school, which I’m sure would have made Derin C. Arac really proud.
Written by Julie Kelly
Julie Kelly is first generation born Australian from European parents who immigrated from Egypt back in the 60’s. Throughout her life Julie felt like the square peg that never fit in the round hole, and endured many challenges in life such as losing her best-friend in High School to an accidental drug overdose, her parent’s divorce and surviving a terrible car accident caused by a drunk driver. Throughout her life, Julie always chose to rise above her struggles, and tried to find the Grace in every situation, living by the motto that everything happens FOR you, not to you.