Sometimes it makes me sad that it took the death of Spencer Tibbits to wake me up to the power of “planning to be kind.”   I always had compassion and wanted to help those who were struggling.   Most often I didn’t know what to “say or do” and simply offered up the typical clichés.  These cliches left me feeling incomplete and I wished I could be kind in a more meaningful way.  I needed a plan!  Spencer’s Tibbit’s life and and actions of kindness showed me a plan to follow.

I remember sitting through Spencer’s funeral asking why this had to happen to a student of mine on his birthday and wondering how his parents and family would ever get through this.  My life and its direction changed when I heard at his funeral of how he planned to be kind. His plans of kindness were unique and impacted everything he did.   He had eyes that saw people in need, he had a heart that cared, a mind that was always planning on how he could turn tears into laughter.    He used his gifts in ways that helped people.  He wasn’t perfect and had experienced much sorrow and pain himself………but he never forgot the pain and turned anger into planning.  This planning and action helped turned the darkness to light for those around Spencer.  He always talked about light in his writings and poems which leads me to believe that he had experienced darkness as well.

The Cheetos Club attempts to honor Spencer’s life in everything we do.  We attempt to be that small voice that looks and listen.  We try to slide under the radar, but still want to spread his message of kindness in a way that honors his life and legacy.  It is a legacy that is growing and a message that our schools, communities and families need.

The Cheetos Club recently was invited to speak to the Petoskey Rotary Club.   It seemed rather fitting as Paul Harris started Rotary back in 1905 as a way to give back and serve his community.  This act ultimately lead to meaning and purpose in his own life.  I asked the forty plus students in the Cheetos Club for advice in regards to addressing the members of the Petoskey Rotary Club.   I did not expect for them to say, “Challenge them to do what we’re trying to do.”   “Tell them to start with little plans and acts of kindness.”  “Ask them if they have a “Plan to be Kind” in their business, organization, and homes?”    I’ll never forget the feeling in the room when I presented the student’s challenge to them.   It was quiet, thoughtful, and powerful.   They knew that these students had grasped onto something that they needed.  Something that has been missing from their lives and also our schools, communities, and our nation.   Who plans to be kind?    Not many……….and they knew it and I know it.

What is your plan to be kind?   When a coworker is struggling….. what are you going to do?  When someone experiences loss, do you have a plan to be kind.   If you don’t have a plan, I think you’ll be similar to me in the past…….kindness won’t happen.  It’s the plan that makes it happen.   I watch students come to my classroom every day and head to our “kindness kloset” and write cards, give little gifts, welcome new students, wish students Happy Birthday and even talk about creative ideas of kindness they plan to implement.  They now look for ways to encourage others during their day.  I absolutely love Wednesdays when The Cheetos Club eats lunch together and we simply talk about ideas and plans of kindness we could attempt during the school week. These little plans are making a big difference at Petoskey High School.   High Schools aren’t known for kindness, but these kids are changing that perception one plan at a time.   Follow their lead…….it will change your heart, soul, and mind.   It might even turn some darkness into light.  And when you have light, the world looks different.    Spencer did it……so can you!

Plan to be Kind!