FPHS Students Teach Empathy lessons at Wills Valley
November 30, 2017
Southern Torch (3351 articles)

FPHS Students Teach Empathy lessons at Wills Valley

Contributed by Regina Boatwright, Wills Valley Elementary School Guidance Counselor

FORT PAYNE, Ala. Through weekly lessons, second graders learn the art and skill of relating to others.

Since January of 2017, two Fort Payne High School students have been teaching empathy-based curriculum to second graders at Wills Valley Elementary School.

Ansley Grider and MacKenzie Taylor read the book “The Sneetches” by Dr. Suess as part of a lesson. (Contributed Photo)

Ansley Grider and MacKenzie Taylor founded the Empathy is Elementary initiative with the aims of benefiting children, their classrooms and community. Research the pair gathered shows empathetic children are: not likely to bully, online or in person; more likely to engage in positive social behaviors such as sharing/helping others; less likely to be antisocial or exhibit uncontrolled aggressive behaviors; more likely to participate in class and less likely to have classroom behavior problems; more likely to graduate from high school and college and have a full-time job by age 25; and more likely, when they enter the workforce, to successfully manage or work with a team.

Grider and Taylor are teaching a four-lesson series to all second graders at Wills Valley Elementary. During the spring of 2017, they led classes with children who are currently in third grade. Approximately 550 kids have participated in empathy lessons.

“Our immediate goal is to get kids to share the feelings of their peers and others in their lives – to put themselves in another person’s shoes and gain an understanding of situations from his or her perspective,” Grider said. “We also hope to create a foundation of empathy awareness kids can build on and take with them into their families, workplaces, and communities.”

Grider and Taylor point to a study by researchers at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor that showed college students’ self-reported empathy levels have dropped 40 percent since 1980. They say the ability to empathize is essential to forming meaningful relationships and helps people and groups work together to solve problems.

Southern Torch

Southern Torch


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