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West side elementary school implements character teaching into curriculum

Stout Field Elementary's staff works with Managed Health Services to create wellness lessons for students.

INDIANAPOLIS — Friday is National No One Eats Alone Day, an effort to end student isolation during lunch at school.

Since the pandemic dramatically changed how schools and students navigate lunchtime, 13News stopped by Stout Field Elementary to see how the west Indianapolis school pivoted to promote the message. Stout Field is K-6 and the curriculum for all grades now includes conversations about character.

"A lot of the time we're teaching things that people didn't even know that they had to learn, like sharing and getting along and how to handle conflict. Like, if you want that toy and your friend wants that toy, what's the best way to handle that situation? Because they're going to deal with that same problem throughout their whole life," said teacher Rhonda Arthur.

Arthur said when her students are mentally and emotionally strong, they are in a better position to learn. The school also actively rewards kindness.

"When we notice someone being helpful or being kind or being thoughtful, we recognize that and we can do that through our Star Gram program," Arthur said. "We have little slips of paper that all the teachers, bus drivers, cafeteria workers ... can hand out to our kids as they notice them making the effort to have a positive interaction. And then those little Star Grams turn into items from our Star Store, so they can truly see the value of their positive choices."

Elizabeth Sons is a school-based service administrator with Managed Health Services and she works on wellness curricula with Stout Field educators.

"They're all really focused on, 'How do I be a good friend? How do I write a thank you? How do I go out of my way to help somebody?' I've just been so impressed with the way that we've been able to support the school and how they've grown this initiative," Sons said.

Sons said it's vital that parents understand that modeling matters and kindness and anti-bullying lessons need to continue when students head home, to the sports fields and the other areas of their lives.

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