Skip to main content

Inspiring and leading innovation in education


 Creating a Kindness Chain Reaction at Highlands Elementary School

Nestled in the foothills of Mount Helix, Highlands Elementary School (La Mesa-Spring Valley Schools) is a caring community of families, students, and educators where kindness has sparked a chain reaction.

It seemed like a typical school day when paraprofessional Monica Muldoon inquired with a student who had her head down on her desk. The student shared with her that her head was down on her desk because she was cold, not having blankets at home and not living in a permanent residence, but going from shelter to shelter or motel. Hearing that her student was cold and not getting rest, Muldoon took swift action and shared the story with her book club.

Once the book club heard about the concern, they gathered money to pay for pillows, blankets, and to help the family. The book club also provided money for a hotel stay so the family would have shelter during the winter break and holiday season.

Once district social worker Aubrey Gallegos-Asimos had gathered money for a stay at the motel, she headed to the motel to pay. Upon hearing the story of the family, the motel owner decided to extend the stay for the family and upgrade the room to include a microwave and refrigerator. Gallegos-Asimos also worked with local community partners like Toys for Tots and Common Ground, which helped with getting food and presents for the break and holiday.

Local investment firm IPG then heard about this family and their needs. They met with teachers from Highlands and heard of needs with this family and other families who may experience difficulty. Being so moved by the kindness of Muldoon, Gallegos-Asimos, and other community partners, IPG funded a $5,000 grant in honor of Muldoon.

The Highlands team was incredibly honored by this generous donation from IPG. They decided to keep the chain reaction of kindness in motion and created a motor lab and calming space for students. With the grant, teacher Rachel Trahan and Gallegos-Asimos created a place for students who may be having a difficult time to find peace and solace or to get access to food or supplies for their day. As Highlands principal Jon McEvoy shared, this chain reaction of kindness is the kind of heart teachers and staff members show at Highlands each and everyday.