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Educator’s Innovation Creates a More Peaceful School District

Lauren Mechling (far left) with Sandy Hook Promise staff Annie Stephens and Andre Elliott (both far right).

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Ohio school counselor and SAVE Promise Club Advisor Lauren Mechling knows how to infuse the Start with Hello message into a school’s culture. She is a long-time supporter of Sandy Hook Promise Know the Signs programs. She got creative in a previous district by using Skype to build bridges and embrace the diversity within a large geographical area with many schools. Lauren’s lesson plan can be found here and in the SAVE Promise Club Toolkit available to all SAVE Promise Clubs. If you are interested in the toolkit, contact [email protected] for more information. Read Lauren’s story below about how her school delivered impactful Start with Hello activities for this year’s Call-to-Action Week.

“With this much diversity we needed something more to address their social-emotional learning.”

Lauren Mechling, pictured above (far left) with Sandy Hook Promise staff Annie Stephens and Andre Elliott (both far right).

Walk into Mahoning County Career and Technical Center or a Valley STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) classroom in Ohio and you will find students from 25 different school districts in three surrounding Ohio counties all while working in 23 different specialized labs. It is such an amazing place where students come from all over to experience the cutting-edge technology in STEM, Digital Arts, Software Engineering, Welding, Cosmetology, Networking and Cybersecurity, Public Safety and more. We are doing a great job of ensuring these students are getting what they need academically to prepare them for amazing careers but with this much diversity, we needed something more to address their Social-Emotional Learning. This was our second year celebrating Start with Hello Week and we realized the need to continue spreading kindness all year so we started a Kindness Initiative. Start with Hello week and this sustaining initiative was all student-led and it is showcasing our students’ amazing creativity.

The kindness initiative spread into our English classes, and teachers have devoted an entire unit to kindness themes and having students research and brainstorm how they can make an impact in their school and community. We are also starting a Student of the Month Program, recognizing students for being kind with gift cards and a kindness t-shirt made by our own Digital Design and Print students.

Our school has also had a great response from the community after posting multiple pictures from the Start with Hello week and kindness initiative. We will continue to use the hashtags that won our hashtag contest throughout the year: #MCCTCsaysHello and #KindnessStartsHere to promote the Start with Hello message through the tri-county area and hopefully spread Start with Hello to other surrounding districts. I have seen this work with three different local districts that jumped on board after I have shared the simple steps that are involved in bringing Start with Hello to your building.

“I have heard from students, staff and administration that they have seen and felt a culture shift in our building.

It is a wonderful thing to experience and we are excited to see what emerges from the students throughout the year. Kindness is contagious and it is spreading all over Mahoning County Career and Technical Center and Valley STEM and we hope that it can grow and blossom in our surrounding districts, the state, and country!