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GISD Working to Spread Happiness in Its Community

Stacy Bogard

By Stacy Bogard, CAE, MASB Assistant Director of Communications, PR & Marketing

DashBoard, Feb. 21, 2018

Even though weather threatened to derail their plans and the district was closed as a result, employees and students of Genesee Intermediate School District took part in its first Day of Giving intended to result in 1,800 acts of kindness in 18 hours throughout the community. They far exceeded their goal, impacting 3,471 people on Feb. 12, 2018.

“It really seemed to brighten the community,” noted GISD Superintendent Lisa Hagel, Ph.D. “It definitely stated to people that we care about who you are and how you contribute to our community.”

Among the 20 organized projects conducted, GISD representatives:

  • Gave a steaming thermos of coffee and bag of donuts to each road commission crew member before they left at 4 a.m. to clear roads.
  • Students made Valentines for children at Mott’s Children’s Hospital, which were shared by GISD employees along with supplies for a party and ribbons to display the cards in their room.
  • Donated 10 beds, along with pillows, sheets, laundry detergent and other toiletries to the Ronald McDonald House.
  • Bought and installed new appliances for a single mother with six children.
  • Took bags of quarters to local laundromats and paid for, as well as helped people with their laundry.
  • Brought meals into hospital waiting rooms and left gift baskets at the nurse stations.
  • Ordered pizza for the local media stations to be delivered around 4 p.m. as they prepared for the evening news.
  • Helped senior citizen bus riders with their groceries and provided them a one-month punch card for the bus.

The district received financial support from a number of donors. A staff team worked on determining what projects would be undertaken on the day, selected because energy is generated at 212 degrees. A majority of the activities were shared on Twitter tagged as #GISDdayofgiving and can be viewed here.

The Day of Giving is part of an overarching positivity initiative district leadership has been implementing. GISD staff has been undergoing Happiness Advantage Orange Frog training for the last two years, noted in its literature as “the largest and most successful positive psychology training program for educators to date in the world.”

“We’ve adopted this as a belief system for our district to look at everything with a positive lens,” Dr. Hagel said. “Working in a school district can be hard, and this has helped us not only as employees, but as humans to strengthen our resiliency, look for the good in every situation and deal with bad things that happen in life with more effective strategies. Our ISD is now a place where people want to be. People who come in can feel the positivity.”

They are now rolling the initiative out to their local districts with superintendents going through training later this week. GISD will support them in any training they would like to bring to their staff. Programs are also being introduced to students in their after-school activities and at the high school level.

GISD plans on doing the Day of Giving again next year, along with encouraging other ISDs around the state to join them.

“We’d like to make the whole state Orange and have something going on in every ISD,” Dr. Hagel said. GISD will begin working on ways to share the program in the spring, but if there is interest in the Happiness Advantage Orange Frog, a trainers’ workshop for administrators, educators and training development professionals is taking place in early March, or you can contact GISD.

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