Aboite Elementary first-grade teacher Genia Kottkamp wants her students to grow in so many ways.

"I believe that educators have a responsibility to not only educate on academics but also social emotional skills," she said. "Allowing kids to grow in their character as well and in return the teacher grows."

Students found that opportunity through a recent project. First-graders from across the hall at the classrooms of Andrea Pretorius and Megan Daehnke also become engaged in making blankets for babies at Women's Care Center on West Jefferson Boulevard.

"This started as a unit in my classroom for random act of kindness," Kottkamp said. "I read a book called 'Kindness Counts.' I was just teaching them that they're a small part of a big world and we need to continue to give back and you don't always have to get something in return."

"Then we decided what we wanted to do and we wanted to create blankets for babies, and then we picked an organization," she said. "Two parents of kiddos in my room are on the board of Women's Care Center and then a grandparent also volunteers there."

First-graders made and donated the blankets, which will be given to mothers. Or women can earn points in a store at that location.

Parents donated material for the blankets. "Or they donated money and I would go buy the material," Kottkamp said.

The fringes of the no-sew blankets are tied twice.

The teacher said students rose to the occasion. "They have exceeded my expectations in how excited they are and how willing they are to give their time and effort to create the blankets," she said. "Our goal is 10 blankets and by the end of the day we will be at 41 blankets.

"I think all of them have done an amazing job of taking this project on and being motivated and engaged the entire time."

Photos by Genia Kottkamp

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