At the beginning of March, social studies teacher Kathy Kirby learned she had been chosen by Hollis Brookline High School’s Pay-it-Forward club, HB the Change. Her door was decorated with inspirational quotes and pictures, as well as two giant footprints right outside the door to indicate who had left the decorations. Kirby said,“What I really liked the most about the door are the quotes.”
Ann Melim, an English teacher at HB and the advisor for HB the Change, said “Mrs. Kirby didn’t come in the day we did it. Someone sent her a picture. She was shocked and surprised and she said it was beautiful.”
How was Kirby chosen? According to Melim, “We choose the teachers randomly. We have a list of all the teachers and pick a number, then count down. I would like to do something similar for students but I still have to figure out the logistics.”
Where did the tradition of recognizing by decorating begin? Melim said,“When I was in school, there was this door-decorating competition. Whoever won got a pizza party.” In keeping with the memory of her high school, Melim decided to take the tradition but add a twist: no pizza party. Rather, in the philosophy of HB the Change, this act of kindness is not a competition for recognition, but instead, a way for teachers to feel appreciated.
The selection had the intended effect. Kirby said, “Honestly, I was moved to tears – of happiness. I was not expecting this and was blown away. This reminds [teachers] that what we do is important to a lot of people.”
Melim agreed. “It’s exciting to see these teachers feel recognized and appreciated. It really is a great feeling.”