Investment of time and money is not required to pump up the joy, according to a teacher and her first-grade class at Cedar Valley Elementary School in Killeen.
For the second year, Jessica Bautista borrowed a concept from a national radio show and celebrated with her young students a week of “Pumping Up the Joy.”
The radio show did its program during spring break locally, so Bautista pumped up joy at her school a week earlier. The week also corresponded to benchmark testing for some grade levels.
First-graders cut out handprints and gave them away as “high-fives” to encourage the older students to do their best on the testing.
They also wrote notes of encouragement to teachers and on March 9, they wrote letters and colored pictures to be mailed to deployed soldiers.
This year, Bautista added a community element. She collected coloring books, colors and other simple activities to donate to the McLane Children’s Medical Center in Temple and also hosted parents for breakfast.
“I discovered last year that it developed a sense of teamwork in my class,” the teacher said March 9 as her students colored pictures for soldiers.
“It had a residual effect and they were more compassionate with each other,” she said. “I can see that this group is working together better this week.”
More teachers got on board this year and took part in specified dress days along with their students. The school’s student council supported the first-graders’ efforts as well.
The first-grade teacher introduced the concept of pumping up joy through a popular book, “The Giving Tree,” explaining the power of giving to others without expecting anything in return.
“I explained to them that you can use your words and your art, that you don’t need money, to share the joy,” she said. “You can do that for the third-graders, for teachers, for soldiers, for anyone.”
For the teacher, the week of spreading joy is part of remembering her sister, Chelsea Bownds, who passed away four years ago from cancer.
“I try to think, ‘how would my sister want to be remembered,’” she said.
“We are spreading happiness,” said first-grader D’Nikko Rubianes as he spread his arms apart. “We’re giving out stuff and we’re helping people out because it makes them feel happy.”
His classmate Marcus Baity Jr. agreed. “We can make people happy so they will feel good.”