Cooperation Not Competition

Then Ms. Reynolds looked at me and said "we're changing the world." And, I replied with gratitude, "yes, you are."

Post written by Nick Adkins

A school counselor at Belmont Elementary in Pueblo, Colorado saw the story of a 1st grade teacher in El Paso, Texas. It wasn’t the story any of us wanted to see or read, because it was the story of Ms. Blancas dying December 28, 2020 at 35 from COVID-19. But in that story, Ms. Carpenter saw a legacy of teaching kindness that she wanted to bring to the students in Pueblo.

Ms. Carpenter reached out to us wanting pinksocks to gift to the school principal and some of the other teachers at Belmont Elementary, a preK-5 school in Pueblo, Colorado. Belmont was already deeply entrenched in teaching kindness, love, empathy, connection, not bullying, inclusion, diversity…….you know, all the stuff that grows good humans. They wanted to add pinksocks to their curriculum as a visible/tangible reminder that they could wear to school each Thursday to reinforce throughout the year the things their teachers were gifting them every day. The gift of being loved and cared for deeply. The gift of wanting the best for you. The gift of pouring their hearts and souls into the development and well being of you. That’s what the best teachers do. It’s a wonderful and beautiful thing to see.

In January 2021 we gifted Ms. Carpenter some pinksocks. The next month we gifted her enough pinksocks for all the 5th graders. Then the 5th graders came up with the idea of their gifting pinksocks to all of their schoolmates in the lower grades. The 5th graders wanted to gift pinksocks to every student in the school. They totally got the concept of gifting which is the ethos of the pinksocks movement. They asked for enough pinksocks for everyone, and we said “Yes!”

Pueblo - SoccerIf you’ve never seen 500 happy smiley kids running around in pinksocks, then close your eyes, breathe deeply, and remember a time in this life when you were at peace with yourself and the world. When everything was perfect exactly as it is. The sound of children’s laughter, the sun on your face, the wind blowing through your hair as you ran across the playground at top speed with no cares for future aching muscles. A time when all was right. That’s a start to what it’s like.

Pueblo - Kiddo GiftingThe 5th graders helped raise money to donate to Pinksocks Life, Inc. to help pay for the pinksocks they gifted to their schoolmates. Their teachers wanted to instill in them the feeling of gifting. That the gift isn’t free. It requires some work. But that the receiving of the gift is free. The recipients didn’t have to earn their pinksocks, the pinksocks weren’t a reward or an award, the pinksocks were gifts given freely without any expectation other than bringing joy and togetherness to the whole school. A gift to demonstrate the kindness curriculum they have been learning.

Julie Reisetter, Ellen Beckjord, and I rolled into Pueblo on May 12th to meet Ms. Carpenter and the school principal Ms. Smith for dinner at Gray’s Coors Tavern (the home of the famous Chile Slopper, and owned by Ms. Zerfas the art teacher’s family). What’s a Chile Slopper? It’s basically a cheesburger in a bowl of green chile sauce that you eat with a spoon. I’m fairly certain that OG cheeseburgers won’t ever do it for me again.

Pueblo - Van w/ PrincipalYou know how you can discern the culture of an organization by the example its leader sets? Well, elementary schools are no different. Belmont’s principal Ms. Smith is a happy bundle of joy whose energy and passion for her kids and staff are almost overwhelming. She’s the kind of leader you want to show up for every day. The kind of leader you want to be. A leader who leads with her heart. We had no doubts that the next morning at the school was going to be off the charts with pinksocks energy because Ms. Smith was running the show.

Pueblo - GiftingAs we rolled up in the pinksocks life van, Ms. Carpenter was standing outside the school waving us in to our parking spot for the day. The teachers and parents had lined up some of their vehicles in front of the school decorated with “love more” posters and giant mustaches and pink paper flowers and balloons…..we were going to have a parade! It was a beautiful Spring day in Pueblo, blue skies with puffy clouds, and here come the 5th graders out of the school and up to the parking lot in their pinksocks! There were 5 vehicles lined up at the front of the line numbered 1-5. At each vehicle we dropped a box of pinksocks, and Ms. Myer (the 5th grade teacher whose class had brought us here to be a part of their gifting celebration) divided the 5th graders at each of these gifting stations. The kids were so ready to begin gifting!

Pueblo - Parade of StudentsWe spent the entire morning from 8:00 – Noon watching these amazing 5th graders gift pinksocks as each class marched out of the building led by their teacher holding a pink sign on a staff that stated the teacher’s name and the class grade and decorated with a large mustache. We played on the playground like we were kids during recess. We threw frisbees, kicked the soccer ball, and witnessed a 3rd grade teacher, Ms. Reynolds, instruct 2 boys (one of whom had dyed his hair pink for the day) on a race they were about to have. The boy with the pink hair asked Ms. Reynolds to watch them race across the playground and back.She asked him where do you want to race to? He answered, “to empathy and back.” She said, “very well then, remember it’s a cooperation not a competition.” Then Ms. Reynolds looked at me and said “we’re changing the world.” And, I replied with gratitude, “yes, you are.”

In a world that can sometimes not be what it was meant to be, I am grateful for the work that these teachers, and many more like them around the world, are doing to bring up children who will be the good in the world. The world is full of good! When you believe it, you see it. I am grateful that we saw it in Pueblo.

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Teaching Kindness

“The exponential ripple effect of goodness that these beautiful children in El Paso are creating across the universe through the timeline of their and our lives…..that’s the ROI of #pinksocks!”

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