Middle school can be a tough time, as many could recall.
“Kids develop cliques,” said Justin Parmenter. “Sometimes they’re not communicating with each other, or get to know each other.”
Which sadly, can continue as they transition into high school and beyond. Even more devastating is when personal conflicts lead to violence. The shooting at Butler High School last month left a lasting impact on Parmenter, a teacher at Waddell Language Academy. That same week, he launched “Undercover Agents of Kindness.”
“It’s important for us to try to bring down some of those barriers between people and try to get people to form relationships,” Parmenter said.
The mission: draw names of classmates from a bowl then find something nice to do for them. Students admitted they were a little nervous at first.
“Feeling I got a person I didn’t know stresses me out a bit, but I’m going to get to know someone new,” said Louis Artus.
In the first iteration, students did things like writing notes for classmates, inviting them to sit with them at lunch and in one kid’s case someone got a batch of baked cookies.
“When he was walking in the hallway to go to his first block, I jumped in there and was like ‘Hey, I got something for you, homemade cookies and a note.’ He’s like, ‘That just pumped up my day, I’m gonna eat them with lunch,'” Louis said.
Daelyn Brown, who gave her classmate some ice cream, says she truly enjoyed the conversations she had leading up to the “agent” reveal.
“I can be very social if I try. Like, I can make a lot of friends if I try to get myself out of my comfort zone more often,” she said.
Overall, Parmenter calls the assignment a success. Other Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools teachers have asked if they, too, can implement the activity in their classroom.
“For me, it’s all about sharing ideas with a community of people who all have the same goals. To try to create a better society for our kids,” Parmenter said.
December’s mission is now open to Waddell’s entire seventh grade.