McKinney ISD Superintendent Rick McDaniel kicked off the 2018-19 school year with a new districtwide initiative called Live Kind.

The initiative is intended to create a positive school culture for students and staff, and address mental health, school culture and climate. District officials said mental health and school culture and climate are two of five factors that make up safety and security at MISD.

“[Live Kind] centers around a commitment from central office to every campus, with every administrator [and] every single adult employee in this district, to promote the characteristic that I believe is missing most in our schools today—the characteristic of kindness,” McDaniel said during the 2018-19 convocation video at which the initiative was presented to district staff.

This is McDaniel’s first districtwide initiative during his time as superintendent.

McDaniel and Jennifer Akins, senior director of guidance and counseling services at MISD, presented the initiative to administration and principals at a leadership summit in July and again to all staff the week before school started.

“This is not a one-size-fits-all initiative,” McDaniel said in an interview with Community Impact Newspaper. “Each campus is to go and try to develop … the best way to innovate this idea of kindness towards [everyone] at all levels.”

The district provided staff members with a list of ideas on how to incorporate Live Kind into their campuses. Akins said ideas included mixing up lunch seats so students would sit with different people, posting on social media about an act of kindness or defining kindness and posting it on a door with sticky notes.

Throughout the year campuses will keep track of the different ways students and staff implement Live Kind. McDaniel said schools have to show evidence that they are participating.

Akins said the district wants all students and parents to be involved.

At the end of the year the district hopes to recognize students who show leadership and embrace the initiative, Akins said.

“The bottom line is [we’re] trying to teach the skill of respect towards yourself and others at all levels, and we feel like it’s important [and] it’s up to us to do so,” McDaniel said. “… I so strongly believe that [this initiative] is at the core of early identification and intervention for students [in] need. I think it all ties together.”

At the convocation McDaniel said this is an important initiative because school safety, test scores, student and teacher retention, and much more can be tied back to a culture of kindness.

Live Kind is an umbrella that covers a variety of topics at MISD and is also a way to expand on the district’s Marzano High Reliability Schools Level I certification, Akins said.

The Marzano High Reliability Schools certification is a framework for districts that is intended to show how best practices build off each other and provides indicators to measure a district’s or school’s progress on attaining levels of reliability, according to Marzano Research’s website.

The Level I certification, which is something all MISD campuses have attained, focuses on providing a safe and collaborative culture.

McDaniel said the Live Kind initiative is part of the district’s 2018-19 goals. Goals include focusing on the Marzano High Reliability Schools Level I certification; working to obtain a Level II certification, which focuses on effective teaching in every classroom; and embracing and promoting Live Kind.

“This is not just a fly-by-night, one-year initiative,” McDaniel said in the convocation video. “I seriously want this to be our mantra forever—'McKinney ISD lives kind.'”