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Student, 9, honored for 'tremendous empathy,' helping others

Cary Ashby • Sep 13, 2019 at 6:00 PM

MONROEVILLE — Kaci Poths’ favorite project related to the kindness theme was painting.

The students drew associated words with white crayons.

“We painted over them with watercolor and then the words would show up,” said Poths, the 9-year-old daughter of Clint and Sandi, of Monroeville.

Having been noticed for her real-life ways of being kind in third grade at St. Joseph Catholic School in Monroeville, she was nominated by her former teacher, Caitlin Palm, for the “Be Kind First” award. Mothers in the Toledo area developed the program.

“They noticed a rise in bullying in their school and wanted to do something with positive language,” Palm said.

St. Joseph has participated in the program for the last two years. In the hallway is a banner that says, its “students choose kindness every day.”

Poths, now a fourth-grader, is one of several students in Northwest Ohio who won the award.

“She was always helpful. She never had any back-talk,” said Palm, who taught the award-winner in second and third grades.

Palm recalled a group activity where her student’s kindness shined. A boy turned in a paper, but Palm returned it to him because he didn’t follow the directions.

“(Poths) said, ‘We’re just wondering why you didn’t ask for help,” Palm said. “I remember that; I thought that was emotionally mature.”

Parent volunteer Holly Bauer taught the “Be Kind First” program for second through fifth grades at St. Joseph. She is the mother of three students: Maddox, a sixth-grader; Hudson, a fourth-grader; and Reese, who is in kindergarten. Bauer read stories and books to students based on a word dealing with kindness, such as bravery, courage and compassion.

One of the missions of the non-profit, Be Kind First Foundation, is “to instill leadership skills and basic concepts of acceptance and kindness in children in schools.” Also according to its website, bekindfirst.org, this can create “power shifts which help students prioritize fostering an environment of courage, respect and tolerance while making a positive change in how our youth treat one another.”

Principal David McDowell has noticed how considerate Poths is.

“She just has a very positive attitude. I notice her always doing kind things for others,” said McDowell who has witnessed the girl “making sure nobody is left out” of various activities. “She has tremendous empathy.”

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