Empathy Task Force in LS

Kimberly Formisano, Head of Lower School
Students from the youngest age know what it means to be empathetic. At Brimmer, our faculty and students are dedicated to helping one another. Teachers devote time to teaching the importance of treating others the way you would want to be treated. When conflict arises, teachers spend time encouraging students to use their words, share how they are feeling, and to envision how the other person might also be feeling. Empathy is at the core of everything we do each school day. We learn from understanding each other—our feelings, our similarities, and our differences. 
Last Friday at Share, I read the book I am Human to the Lower School to encourage our students to think about the ways our actions and words positively and negatively impact those around us. After other grades were dismissed, third and fourth graders stayed in the Theatre to delve deeper into what it means to be empathetic. I asked them to share what comes to mind when they hear the word “empathy.” All of their responses illustrated that students at Brimmer care deeply for one another, but one response stood out: “an exaggerated word for kindness.” While our Core Values consist of Kindness, Respect, Responsibility, Honesty, and Equity, this student highlighted that empathy is essential to upholding all these values. I proposed forming an “Empathy Task Force” to the third and fourth Graders, and my office quickly flooded with notes that students would love to join.  
The Empathy Task Force would help students bridge the gap between feeling empathetic and acting on it. Often, children will feel empathy for their peers but struggle to put those feelings into action—and as adults, we tend to assume that children know what to do. The Empathy Task Force will brainstorm ways we can show kindness to other students and teachers each day, how to show support for a student struggling, or ways to include people who are sometimes excluded. I can’t wait to see what students propose!
As an inclusive private school community, Brimmer welcomes students who will increase the diversity of our school. We do not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, sex, gender, gender identity and expression, disability, sexual orientation, national origin, ancestry, or any other characteristic protected from discrimination under state or federal law, in the administration of our educational policies, admissions practices, financial aid decisions, and athletic and other school-administered programs.