Landing Students Learn to Cultivate Kindness

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Students at Landing Elementary took part in an inspirational assembly about kindness, treating others with respect and paying it forward when Mr. Richard Specht Jr., the founder of the ReesSpecht Life Foundation, visited their school.

The Cultivate Kindness school program was created to teach children about how being kind to one another can leave a lasting impact. Its creation stems from tragedy. On Oct. 27, 2012, while preparing for Hurricane Sandy, the Specht family lost their son Rich Edward-Ehmer Specht (Rees) in a backyard pond drowning. Through the kindness of many within the community, especially Kelly Landscaping, which covered the pond, the Spechts’ learned how acts of kindness can help others see the positive during a hard time. The family wanted to do something positive for the community and decided to pay it forward with random acts of kindness. Mr. Specht’s daughters came up with a goal of creating 500 random acts of kindness. After the community’s reaction to the first round of acts of kindness, they were even more inspired to help others and have surpassed that number.

Mr. Specht, a former middle school science teacher, made his message fun and engaging. Students were able to see how kindness can spread and come back to you like a boomerang. He also showed the students a science demonstration on how negative feelings and behavior can affect others. Mr. Specht poured different liquids into glass beakers to form a dark liquid (negative feelings), then turned changed those negative feelings back to clear liquid (positive feelings) by adding another substance. The students were amazed by this science experiment and were inspired to treat others with kindness. Students were encouraged to help others and talk to someone who may be sitting alone.

Mr. Specht also wrote a children’s book, “A Little Rees Specht Cultivates Kindness,” about a boy, Rees, who spreads kindness to other kids just like a seed. With each act of kindness the seed grew and grew to make the world beautiful again. He also wrote a second book about bullying and an animation series to go with the books that will be coming out soon.  

The Landing PTA generously purchased a few books for the teachers to share with their students. Mr. Specht wanted each classroom teacher to have a copy so they could share the story of kindness each year. He planted the first seed of kindness by donating books to each classroom teacher. Before the assembly, teachers read and shared the story with the children. Classroom teachers and students wrote thank-you cards and letters showing their appreciation. 

After the assembly, students helped the custodial staff clean up the chairs and prepare for the APR for lunch. Students were left with a card to help spread Rees’ story and spread kindness within Landing and the Glen Cove community. Thank you to the PTA and the Cultural Arts Committee for bringing such an inspirational guest to Landing to spread an amazing message to all students and staff.