"Hey Mrs. Corbin – hashtag JagKind!"
A push to promote kindness at Jurupa Valley High has become a rallying cry, a catalyst for unity, a motto that students in the hallway call out to Principal Kimberly A. Corbin.
The idea: to cultivate a culture of kindness at JVHS by encouraging students to tweet kind words about their school and the people in it.
The result: Hundreds of uplifting tweets that use the hashtag #JagKind, in reference to the school's mascot, the jaguar. For students without Twitter, the school launched a discussion board to loop everyone in to the positive energy.
Among the students' words:
"best school, easy to be yourself here!"
"The teachers at Jurupa Valley are very supportive and know how to make us smile. <3 #jagkind"
"At JVHS, our days are happier when we give people a bit of our heart rather than a piece of our mind J"
The kindness campaign, called JagKind for Mankind, dates to Fall 2016, when school leaders sought a way to inspire, reward and reinforce a simple virtue.
General negativity on social media – and perhaps some apathy on campus – spurred the effort. "High schools across the nation struggle with kids using social media for negative comments," said Ms. Corbin. "Some kids will bring each other down."
So the question became, "How do we teach positive social media?" Ms. Corbin said. And how do we encourage students to make and strengthen in-person connections?
The #JagKind hashtag was a natural extension of districtwide online safety and digital citizenship training – curriculum that covers areas such as cyberbullying, "digital drama" and perceptions of social media posts.
Meanwhile, on campus, educators fostered positive thinking and personal interaction: greeting one another, holding doors for each other, wishing fellow Jags a "Happy Friday." Ms. Corbin said: "In the beginning, kids were barely saying good morning to one another. Now, Happy (day of the week) is a catchphrase."
The campaign has gone so well that educators use students' #JagKind tweets as "positive thoughts of the day" at the end of morning school announcements. Also, since the effort started, the JVHS Associated Student Body leadership group has doubled in size to about 80, said Ms. Corbin.
Perhaps above all, #JagKind has helped unify the 1,600 students at JVHS. Among the most rewarding aspects of the campaign is "hearing my students' words about the power of everything we're doing as a community," Ms. Corbin said. "It shows the power of cohesion in a school."
The positive energy is contagious, she added, and kindness is timeless.
"I really want to convey that our students/teens are rarely, if ever, praised for their use of social media," Principal Corbin said. "#JagKind is the exception. Our students are experiencing the power of social media for the greater good."