Holly Ann Carter - 4th grade teacher Fellows Elementary

Fellows Elementary 4th-grade students in Holly Ann Carter’s class paid it forward in March as part of their participation in Project Jack. 

The Iowa Association of Realtors (IAR) launched Project Jack a few years ago in honor of a first-grade student who passed away from a rare disease. After his death, Jack’s parents gave $100 to each of Jack’s classmates to do whatever they wished, as long as it was offered in the act of kindness. When Iowa Realtors heard of this, they picked it up and started offering $250 to classrooms to “pay it forward” in helping spread kindness to other people.

At the request of a classroom parent, Carter applied for and was awarded the $250 grant and started to pay it forward. Carter’s class integrated the project as part of their opinions writing unit. Each student was given a budget of $10 to spend on any book they would like to share with Raising Readers of Story County. From there, students wrote a persuasive/opinion paper about why someone should read the book, a summary of the story, and final thoughts. The students are also using these papers to create a published book to help them remember this amazing project. 

Although paying it forward was combined as part of this project, it is a theme that is woven throughout the class and easily identified in the classroom. “I often get asked what my favorite subject is to teach,” reflected Carter. “Some might say reading, math, or science. However, the most important and favorite aspect of teaching that I feel deeply about is teaching kids how to become kind, loving, and thoughtful people.”

The class motto is “Just do the right thing,” with posters of sayings on the walls. “Doing the next right thing looks like spreading kindness to others, no matter who they are,” said Carter. “Doing the next right thing is stepping up to a challenge that will help bring more kindness and love into the world.” 

For Carter’s class, doing the next right thing for the youth in the Ames community was important. In March, the classroom gave the books, bookmarks, and papers to Raising Readers of Story County at the end of their unit. Reflecting on the unit, Carter said, “the kids had a blast doing this project and were so very honored to help bring the love of reading to our community.”