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Ben's Bells Founder Jeannette Maré Visits Local Schools



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Ben's Bells Founder and Executive Director Jeannette Maré shared the importance of being kind at three Newtown elementary schools recently, when visiting the schools.

She visited Hawley Elementary School on Tuesday, February 7, where she spoke to students during an assembly about the importance of practicing kindness.

She also visited Middle Gate Elementary School on Tuesday.

"Our [Ben's Bells] assemblies," Middle Gate Principal Christopher Geissler wrote to parents that day, "were held and the children heard wonderful messages on emotional intelligence, self-awareness, and empathy. Jeanette Maré presented in a lively fashion and gave real examples which added to the power of her presentation. The assembly also provided a great opportunity to share the news about our mural projects. The first stage, making the clay pieces, kicked off today and was a success."

According to Middle Gate PTA President Debbie DeBlasi, Ms Maré spent time after sharing a presentation to watch students make clay pieces for what will be a Ben's Bells mural in the school. Hawley is also working to create a Ben's Bells mural between May and June, according to Hawley school counselor Kimberly Laiso.

During a full-school assembly at Head O' Meadow Elementary School on Wednesday, Ms Maré told students she was excited to speak with them about "my favorite topic... kindness."

Ms Maré, who lives in Arizona, told the students she learned about kindness at a difficult time in her life, and the more people treated her with kindness the better she felt.

"What I was experiencing is that kindness is powerful," said Ms Maré.

She held up an example of a Ben's Bell, which volunteers work to create, and explained each bell is hung for people to find, as an act of spreading kindness. Ben's Bells, she said, began in Tucson, Ariz., and it is spreading.

After telling the students kindness is a skill, Ms Maré asked the assembly, "What happens when you practice a skill?"

"You get better," the students said together.

Ms Maré then spoke about science and how the brain responds to different daily events. She told the students to first work on understanding their emotions, realize those emotions in others, and work to act kindly toward others when they notice those emotions.

"All of this takes courage... Practicing kindness means being brave," said Ms Maré. Later she finished the assembly by saying, "Thank you for being part of this whole kindness revolution going on in this country."

NHS students taking Spanish decorated and wore T-shirts for Spanish day, Thursday, February 16. (Liz Ward photo)
Newtown High School Advanced Placement Latin students wore togas for Latin day, the first day of International Education Week. (Liz Ward photo)
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