Compassion Equals Empathy Plus Action

By Natalie Grubbs, TCS Counselor

Last year, before joining the TCS faculty, I had the opportunity to collaborate with, and later substitute for, the school’s former counselor, Kathy Roberts.  When I visited with Kathy last fall, she walked me around the school for an informal tour.  As we ducked in and out of classrooms, one thing was so clear to me: The Children’s School is truly unique in the way it integrates socio-emotional learning and character education into every aspect of the children’s daily school experience. We stepped into the Pre-primary classroom where I watched very young  children demonstrate their “elevator breaths,” a technique that helps them remember to stop and breathe when they’re upset.  We stopped by the library where there was a binder, paper, and pens for students to journal about ways they’ve been kind to others or experienced the kindness of a friend.  We visited a Kindergarten classroom where the teachers had placed an empty, round table in the middle of the room and labeled it a “peace table” where children could sit and resolve conflicts that pop up throughout the day.  In a nearby 2nd grade classroom, children were trained to pitch in and clean their classroom periodically as a part of their daily classroom routine.  

I knew on that day last fall that TCS was a special place, and now that I’ve joined the faculty as the new counselor, I feel honored to be the “keeper” of the program that has come to set not only our school apart, but our students as well.  To quote Nicole Victor, our Director of Admissions and Outplacement, “Our graduates have strong character. From an early age, TCS students understand the concept of social justice and service to others.  They are responsible, compassionate young adults who are taught peaceful conflict resolution.”

How do we do it?  Twice a month, teachers dedicate time for what we call “BCC Lessons”.  BCC stands for Building Character and Community, and each month our school dives deep into one particular character trait (Responsibility, Respect, Compassion, etc.) I facilitate the lessons as the School Counselor, but the lessons are continued through intentional collaboration across curricular and specialty areas, and integrated from the day program through the extended day program.  Parents are a part of this collaboration as well, with a character education discussion board where parents can ask questions like “How can I get my kids to be responsible at home?” or share favorite articles, blog posts, or videos to reinforce our community’s conversation about character.   Parents also join me once a month for book club discussions and attend TCS University sessions where we share ideas on tackling parenting challenges and sharpen the tools necessary to raise kids with character.  

In a few days, we will do one of the things of which I am most proud.  Our school will open its gates on a Saturday morning, and students will bring their parents, families and friends to put our character into action.  I teach our kids “Compassion Equals Empathy Plus Action”.  And on Saturday November 21, we will come together as a school community and learn about the issue of homelessness and hunger and how it affects our greater community.  We will learn about the needs of different homeless populations (can you name three different homeless populations? Our students can!).  After we’ve learned and reflected, we will team up to assemble 1,000 sandwiches to donate to homeless women and their children so that they will have lunch over the Thanksgiving Break.  

Dr. Martin Luther King stated that “Intelligence plus character- that is the goal of true education.”  I couldn’t agree more, and every day I have the honor of coming to TCS and being surrounded by some of the most intelligent, kind, and compassionate children I’ve ever met.  


Students, parents, and faculty members visiting the library can share acts of

kindness (known around campus as Ba-Boom-Bas) in a community journal.



What’s the best way to model sportsmanship?  Jump into the game, of course!  

6th Grade teacher Naimah shows her students how it’s done.