Cassville teacher starts 'Thankful Thursdays'

Wednesday, November 23, 2016
High School students Garrett York, left, Haven Brookes, center, and Grace Baxley, take a few minutes to write a note describing what and whom they are thankful for during teacher Mandy Boone's communication arts class. After feeling fed up with the daily bombardment of negativity in the world, Boone decided to start an initiative in the school setting to help students practice the art of thankfulness. Boone said the practice, which was initiated at the beginning of the school year, has spread throughout the district. Contributed photo

Superintendent: 'It is to be thankful'

With the Thanksgiving holiday season in full-swing and family feasts and gatherings as its centerpiece, the season prompts all to remember what things in life they are truly thankful for.

To demonstrate the practice of being thankful in the school setting, and not just in a once-per-year seasonal sense, Cassville teachers recently added a new type of assignment to the daily curriculum saying, 'Thank you.'

Cassville High School English teacher Mandy Boone helps student Garrett York with a note describing what he is thankful for. After becoming inspired by a Springfield teacher, Boone decided to implement the practice of being thankful and showing gratitude on a regular basis, not just during the holidays. So on Thursdays, communication arts teachers now devote the first five minutes of class to 'Thankful Thursdays.' During the practice, students watch an inspirational video, then complete a short writing assignment. Contributed photo

According to Cassville High School teacher Mandy Boone, with the abundance of negativity in the world, many teachers say they have had enough of the daily bombardment negativity around them, and enough of their students growing up in a world that often focuses on negative events versus what exists to be thankful for.

After becoming inspired by a teacher in the Springfield area, Boone, who teaches 10th-grade English and ninth-grade advanced placement English, implemented a new practice that prompts students to shift their thought processes and focus on what they are thankful for each and every day, not just once a year during a holiday.

The result was Thankful Thursdays, which started at the beginning of the year and, as good news does, traveled quickly throughout the communications department, and the entire school district.

On Thursdays, the communication arts teachers devote the first five minutes of class time for Thankful Thursdays. Students watch a brief, inspirational video, then complete a short writing assignment, followed by three options.

They can write a private journal entry about what they are thankful for, write a public thank you on the white board or they can write a personal thank you note that will be delivered to a chosen recipient via mail or hand-delivered by their teacher.

The third option has been the most popular with students. At first, Boone said she was hesitant to start the new practice.

"I thought that students might think it was silly, but to my surprise, they have embraced it," she said.

During the practice, Cassville students have said they are thankful for everything from life-saving medications, to their family, friends and teachers, to insignificant things such as their gaming systems.

Teachers have also incorporated their Thankful Thursdays lessons into class work requirements, such as letter and email etiquette and journal-writing practices.

Richard Asbill, superintendent of the school district, supported the new practice, emphasizing its importance not only in school, but in life.

"We are proud of our teachers for taking the time to teach our students how important it is to be thankful," Asbill said.

"There is no doubt it is easy to become focused on the bad things happening to us or around us. Teaching our students to find the positive is hopefully a life skill that will follow them beyond the halls of Cassville."

Both students and teachers are finding that the new practice, requiring only a small investment of time, shifts their thoughts to a feeling of gratitude.

"It just takes about five minutes of class time, but if it can make somebody's day a little brighter," Boone said. "We think it is worth it.

"It has been a great project to work on with our students and coworkers throughout the district."

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