The campus at Jefferson Township Middle School (JTMS) will appear to be a bit more colorful soon, if not already. No, it’s not just the fall foliage that’s adding to the vibrancy. It is the Kindness Rock Garden, fashioned by students and faculty, that brings a wealth of vivid hues to the grounds.

The wealth of the garden, however, goes well beyond its brightly colored river rocks: On each of the stones, its maker inscribed an inspirational thought evoking kindness, compassion, and goodwill.

The rock garden is just one of three projects that comprised an afternoon celebrating Operation Kindness, which is coordinated by the JTMS PTA, the Positive Behavior Support in School (PBSIS) Universal Team, and the School Safety Committee. PBSIS is a collaboration between the NJ Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs, and Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.

The afternoon also included a presentation by Chris and Laura D’Amico about the family’s Kindness for Christopher movement. In addition, the middle school students – sixth, seventh, and eighth graders, more than 700 all told--created cards with words of encouragement that will be sent to U.S. military troops. The Blue Star Moms of Jefferson, a group that provides support for mothers with children in the military, assisted the students in making cards.

Throughout the afternoon, the students moved among the three activities.

During the discussion by Chris and Laura D’Amico, the students participated in a presentation that was both inspirational and motivational, and elicited enthusiastic response from the students. Chris questioned the kids about their impressions of superheroes and what makes them “super,” a theme that definitely resonated with the group. The students expressed almost unanimously that being super involved power.

Chris noted that superheroes in general are usually motivated by the power of kindness--to save someone in distress, for example, or to make things right by eliminating wrongful acts. Chris encouraged the students to “turn on their superpower of kindness.”

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Maria Weiskott is a Jefferson Township resident and a forty year veteran of the publishing profession. An award-winning journalist and editor, she served in top managerial positions at numerous business-to- business newspapers and magazines including Reed Elsevier and Fairchild Publications. Early in her career she operated a local newspaper in the Passaic Valley towns of Little Falls, Totowa and the former West Paterson. Following retirement, she launched a “ghostblogging” service that provides social networking update and blogging services for small and medium sized businesses. Maria travels widely with her husband and is a passionate photographer. She can be reached at