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The Power of Positive Words Earns Smallwood Drive a 2021 Promising Practice Award

The power of repeating a positive phrase was the backbone of Mantra Mondays this year at Smallwood Drive Elementary School and earned the school a 2021 Promising Practice award from, a national organization that fosters character development in children and teens. Smallwood Drive is one of 170 schools and organizations across the country being recognized.


The schoolwide Mantra Mondays was an opportunity to teach staff, students and their families about having a positive mindset, understanding the importance of resiliency and dealing with the unique challenges the school faced during a pandemic. The mantra initiative allowed the building to teach students the importance of staying positive especially during challenging times. 


It was initiated in the summer of 2020 by the building’s Social Emotional Learning committee who understood that returning to school in the fall was going to be emotionally challenging because school was not going to look and feel as it did prior to the closure due to the many safety measures put in place. 


Mantras are positive phrases or words that are commonly repeated. Throughout the year, staff and students intentionally worked to build positive mindsets to enhance a positive climate and culture throughout the school. Each classroom developed its own mantra that was recited each day during their Social Emotional Learning Time. Teachers were given lessons to use in their classroom to explicitly teach about mantras, positive self-talk, and positive mindsets. Classrooms also decorated a place in their room featuring their mantra to keep the idea at the forefront.  Students have reported the use of mantras has been helpful when they have strong emotions and helps them to reset their feelings in a positive way. 


“For several years social emotional learning has been at the forefront of all that we do at Smallwood,” said Rich Crozier, principal. “Given our state and national School of Character recognition, the Promising Practice award is a nice  acknowledgement of our continued commitment to supporting students' social and emotional well being. What is so special about this recognition is that our entire school community played a part in making Mantra Mondays a priority and focusing on finding the positive during challenging times.”


Examples of the kindergarten classroom mantras were we can do hard things, we‘ve got this, we believe in ourselves and each other and together we can change the world. Some of the fifth grade mantras were fearless-unstoppable-unshakable and everything is impossible until someone does it.


Each morning during announcements, fifth-grade students included a positive mantra and explained its meaning. On Mondays and Fridays, staff and students wore positive mantra t-shirts during the school day to act as walking billboards for positive thinking and mindset.  


The initiative was selected by as a 2021 Promising Practice because it is fully aligned with one or more of’s 11 Principles Framework for Schools: A Guide to Cultivating a Culture of Character. Smallwood also earned a 2020 Promising Practice for its Power of a Puppet project featuring Roary the puppet. In 2019 Smallwood Drive Elementary School was the only school in WNY to be named both a State and National School of Character by