Global Village of Kindness
“It takes a village to raise a child”. This famous African proverb rings more true than ever before. That’s why it is a core belief, value and daily labor of love for educators like today’s special guest. Join host, Marly Q and Dr. Egleevelyn Nunez-Sancristobal, Founder and Principal at STARS Global Preparatory, as they discuss the transformative power of educating our youth to be kind global citizens.
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“The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” ~ Helen Keller
Without a clear and compelling vision driving us forward, there will be no progress for mankind. In order to “be the change we wish to see in the world” we must first be able to envision that new world. A world where all humankind is responsible for upholding a standard of kindness towards ourselves, each other and the world we all share.
Listen to this Episode and be inspired by…
- One woman’s dream to create a Global Village of Kindness
- How one small school is changing the world one day, one student at a time
- The simple power of planting seeds and letting young people take the lead
- How young children are being empowered to be responsible global citizens
- How kind student-teacher relationships changes lives and gives us all hope
- How kindness within school should extend out to parents and the community
- How service learning gives young people a voice, self-esteem and confidence that they can help and do something to fix problems they see in the world.
Tune in to this short episode and let’s create this Global Village of Kindness, together!
About Marly Q:
Kindness Influencer, Leadership Trainer, and Community-Builder on a mission to create a kinder world for over two decades. Through her podcast, she invites listeners to make “Time to Be Kind” each week to receive a spark of kindness, connection and community.
Connect with Marly Q:
About Our Guest:
Dr. Egleevelyn Nunez-Sancristobal is a visionary leader working to create a kinder world for over a decade. She is the proud founder and principal of STARS Global Preparatory in Miami, FL. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Special Education and Teaching, a Masters in Autism Research, and a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership.
Connect with STARS Global Preparatory
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00:00 Marly Q
The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision. I’m inspired to close out women’s history month with these impactful words by Helen Keller and introduce you to a visionary female founder who has a big vision of a global village of kindness. Stay tuned.
00:31 Marly Q
Welcome and thank you for making time to be kind with Marly Q. Help me to welcome our special guest and PARKer today, Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal, a super special PARKer in my world. Welcome. Thanks for making time to be kind.
00.44 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
Yes, of course. I love thank you for inviting me. Thank you.
00:47 Marly Q
Yes. So before we dive in, in case you’re new to my world and you’re listening for the first time, Eglee, please tell folks, what’s a PARKer?
00:57 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
It is a person that performs acts of random kindness.
01:01 Marly Q
That’s right. A PARKer is you, me, and we, everyone that we are uniting through this effort, through this podcast, everyone that makes time to be kind on a weekly basis. Once you are a PARKer, you’re a person that performs acts of random kindness. And together, I believe that we have the power to really shift our culture and shift our world to one that is more kind and of service to each other. And I’m so excited to spend this time with you, Eglee, here today and share you with our PARKers listening because you’re a visionary female founder who has been working towards this greater vision of creating a kinder world for well over a decade that I’ve known you, right? And I before we jump into hearing about your story and your vision, I want to tell those listening that Eglee is the founder and the principal of STAR’s global preparatory school in Miami, Florida. She has a bachelor’s in special needs from Nova Southeastern University. She has a master’s in autism from my alma mater FIU, Florida International University. And recently, even like during pandemic times, this woman went out and got a Ph.D. in educational leadership, right? On top of having a toddler, running a school, you know, just a few things. This is a superhero and her together with her team at STAR’s Global Prep are creating kinder humans each and every day. Eglee, can you share with us your vision for STAR’s Global Prep and really what I see as your vision for creating like this global community, this global village of kindness?
02:27 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
Thank you, Marly. That was a beautiful intro. Thank you so much. STAR’s Global Preparatory really started at my heart and really tugging at the need of a global awareness of kindness, of unity, of love. And I think we’ve all felt that way in the last couple of years. And the vision of the global village, which is an actual area in our school, also took months of planning and looking for details that will really, really send the message, not only to the students but as I like to call it, a double message to the parents. So when the parents and the students come to the Global Village, yes, the Global Village is an area where we have literally duplicated in smaller size areas like an animal shelter, a recycling center, the laboratory. We have a planting station. So these are all areas that the students get to go in and experiment with all these areas. But for the parents looking at it, they totally see the double meaning, which means that, yes, our children need to know about recycling. Yes, our students need to know that shelters exist, not just for animals, but in other ways. So it became almost a fresh air when parents would come and parents come and tour and the students go in there because it reminds us instantly that it’s not about me. It’s about globally, these are issues that are going on in the world and how can we make them better. And how can I teach my child what an animal shelter is and why are these animals there? It’s just created so much more than just an area for them to play in and imagine. And it really becomes something. It’s really become interesting. And even for us as the adults, we do our parent meetings in there. We do our staff meetings there. Everybody wants to hang out in there because it really reminds you of what it is to be a kid. And it reminds you to have fun. And we go down the, we have a bubble, we have a slide that goes into a big ball pit. And that’s like the big ending of a service learning area, you know, lesson. And it’s just a really, really cool space to be in.
04:29 Marly Q
You know, I, I’ve been there, right? I’ve been there. Personally, my two kids, I think we’re one of the first kids.
04:34 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
They were the first. They were the first.
04:35 Marly Q
The first. Oh, wow. I love being the spark. I love being the first, right? So I had my two-year-old and my four-year-old go down that slide in the ball pit. I had them play, right? So I love what you said that much more than just a play area, it’s really an opportunity to connect and engage with the whole of humanity of what actually makes us mankind, right? Which is being connected to our sense of kindness and responsibility to be of service to one another. So I want you to talk to me about, to talk to us about your service learning component at STAR’s Global Prep, because I really think this is what makes this school so unique, so different. And honestly, one of the main reasons why I for the two past two years or so have served as a chairwoman of the board for STARs, right? And why I’m involved in growing the school and in this awareness is really because of the intentional design of this extended like-day model. Right, that you have. So can you share with us what that’s all about?
05:34 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
So service learning has been something that I’ve always felt is so important, but it wasn’t until high school that I really understood it. And then thinking back on all these community volunteers that always want to volunteer at our school, I said our kids are really not going into the community and also saying thank you for volunteering at my school, but I want to go help and pass it forward. And I mentioned the word responsibility And that is truly the message, is to teach the students that they have a responsibility. We all have a responsibility. It’s as simple as that. It’s about teaching them what it is that they do daily to contribute to the responsibility of better generations to come and the global, the earth that we live on. So the service-learning is something that we infused into their school day. So they’re here between the hour of 205 to 245 almost dismissal, which is three, they go into the global village and there’s big rims of paper and this big you know cart with all this paper on it, they get to roll out, put on the floor, and begin the process of iPart. So iPart is something that we teach the kids, which is to investigate, to prepare, to act on, to reflect. And then we get to celebrate and demonstrate.
07: 05 Marly Q
We need to pause a moment to let our listeners know this is a non-Marly Q acronym that I want you to learn.
07:12 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
So this is how we were able to explain it because I said how do I explain everything that service learning is to a child and to our parents? So what we do is that the service learning the students pick at the beginning of the school year, it’s a whole year transition, they get to brainstorm as a group and they jot down what they feel are things they want to fix is the keyword that we use at the beginning of the school year. As we evolve, we all get to write down everything we want to fix and they have to as a group agree by about month two because it takes us that long to really go in and say what are the things you want to fix. So we start categorizing in it. And then let’s say they find that recycling is the one that they all agree can be something that they could really impact their community. So then that takes us to the investigating part. Let’s investigate how do people recycle. How do the offices recycle? And then they start to all these questions. It’s teacher-led, but more student based. The teacher kind of plants the seed and lets the students evolve. And then once they investigate and they get all this information, then they start to prepare and come up with a plan. How are we going to have all these offices around this have a recycling bin and have the recycling? How are we going to do that? And then after that once they actually implement the project, they have to reflect what worked, what didn’t work, what can we do more or what can we do next year or next semester because we wanna pick up this project again. So it’s not just a, I’m gonna go today, pick up some garbage at a park and what are we doing tomorrow? No, it’s a whole process, and doing that, what we’re trying to establish is in that person, in that student, that facility, that tool, that ability, that skill set to be able to identify these issues in our community in a kind way, in a graceful way, in a loving way, and working with the resources around them to say, how can we fix this? What can I do? And I think everybody can agree as adults that our students and our children in the generations coming and growing that we see are having a lot of difficulty problem-solving. They’re having a lot of difficulty communicating for a lot of reasons, right? That we’re not going brought out, but and this is why it takes us this long, so many skills that we inadvertently are teaching them when my friend doesn’t like my idea, but I really think they should be. Well, let’s talk about it. How would you talk to someone that you don’t agree with? And it’s just brought on so much more than just a project. And that’s why it’s called service learning because there’s a learning component to it. It’s not just a service component.
09:56 Marly Q
09:57 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
We’re super excited about it.
09:59 Marly Q
And that’s why its takes so long. It’s not that it takes so long is that it is a daily practice. What you’re teaching and what you’re planting the seeds are is that this isn’t just like this one-time project that we’re going to work on and we’re in and out of this problem. This is a way of being a socially conscious, a global citizen, someone that thinks about what are the problems that exist in my community, right? And empower children, elementary school kids, right? Little kids, empower them with a sense of responsibility.
10:29 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
10:30 Marly Q
And the way that I break down the word responsibility to me doesn’t mean that I carry the weight of the burden on the world, right? The burden of the world on my shoulders and it is up to me to save the world and solve all the many, many, many problems that I’m passionate about, right? Because if we, if we live in that space, then we are overwhelming our children, right? How can we possibly give and ourselves as adults, how can we possibly take on all the huge burden of all our societal problems? We simply cannot. But what we can do is tap into our ability to respond to the problems that we identify as important to solve. And that’s what I see you’re teaching these kids. And you’re giving them the process and the structure to inquire, right? To think about what questions do we need to ask. Because what’s a problem? A problem is just an unanswered question, right? So what questions?
11:18 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
11:19 Marly Q
Do we need to ask you’re teaching them this skill. It is a skill. And I love that this is an intentional part of your school design of not just your curriculum, but of the culture of the school and it transfers not just for the students like you said, but let’s talk about like the student parent and teacher relationship, right? And how does kindness in education play a role or trickle out, right? In order to engage the parents in this process as well, and not just the parents, the greater community, right?
11:47 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
And that’s the biggest goal. The service learning component has taught us that the parents are very enthusiastic about their children participating in this type of activity. They want their have this ability to do that, to do this.The moment we then now say, okay, parents, we need you to support us. And that’s where we’re at. And you know Also showing the parents and showing the collaboration that it’s not just your student that’s responsible for this and being able to see the issues that may be surround your family that are important to your family. So that’s the next phase. And we have a lot of, we have a big vision for this. We really do. And I know that it has so many different legs and so many different directions that we can continue to expand on.
But for us at the moment, the students don’t even see it, which I think it just organically happened, don’t see it as, oh my gosh, I have to pick, you know, I have to do all these things. They really are excited about, I can actually help. And I speak in these terms because they’re young, they’re elementary students. So these are the terms that they rebuttal to us. I can actually help, I can actually do this. Because as little kids, as you guys know, you sometimes feel that you don’t have a say. You sometimes feel that you’re not heard. You sometimes feel that what’s important to you is not important because you’re not a grown-up. So this activity, this program, you know, this time, whatever you want to call it, has given the students a voice, self-esteem, confidence. We have students that are deficient in certain subject areas and need more help, that are not a student. But yet when they get into the service learning projects, they’re the best artist that the kids are like, whoa, we didn’t know you can draw like that because we’re making the flyers for the bake sale, let’s say. Or, wow, I didn’t know that you can do that. So it has, and that wasn’t planned, that just happened that way. And it has really shown the adults, and that’s the goal. Witnessing this, because it’s happened to me, it’s happened to the teachers, we’re there hearing and watching, there’s hope. You feel such a sense of, okay, you feel rejuvenated, you feel driven, like, okay. So it’s not gonna always be perfect because education is not perfect as we all know, right? The education fields, but there’s hope. Like there’s still hope in these kids. There’s still, we still have the ability to take it back old school and have these students have a teacher-student relationship that matters that you can remember for a lifetime. I mean, these are the things that I’m hopeful for. And I hope that in the interim, you know, I can kind of sprinkle that be the spark, like Marly says, for others that maybe don’t feel it yet, or have never experienced it. We can now say, wow, this is that was pretty cool.
14:42 Marly Q
You know, you’re touching on something so special to me. And again, why I’m involved and why I try to volunteer and spread the word about the great work that’s happening over at STAR’s global is because I was that elementary school kid, like I was that, you know, nine or 10 year old that felt really really worried and burdened by the problems that I saw in my own home and my community, like on TV and the news, right? When my parents would put this on, rule number one, don’t have your kids watch the news. Please don’t do that. Right? I really felt that as a young girl, I want to do something to fix and to help right? And I felt super helpless. I felt insignificant. I felt unheard. I felt like I needed to grow up. I needed to have money. I needed to, you know, and what can I do? And I had a teacher my fourth-grade teacher, which I share this in my TEDx talk. I’ll link it in the show notes to this episode. If you haven’t watched it yet, please do. Because organically, we’ve been sharing this message of kindness for over well over a decade. Again and I know each other for well over a decade and we’ve been building and planting these seeds one by one, one child by one. And you’re doing the work of creating this global village of kindness, of creating this world where people are kind enough service to each other. This is how you do it by empowering kids, educating them.You have the ability to respond in small ways that make a really big impact. And the more that we teach that not just to our kids, but involve our parents in this process and involve the greater community in like, Hey, this is the most important work that we can be doing.
16:17 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
Exactly. Marly, that’s exactly, exactly how I feel. And I and I’m saying it like that because this is the most important work. You know, as adults, I feel it’s our responsibility to really give back to our kids.We can sit here and talk about, you know, laws and statutes and, you know, all these rules that come up in education. But at the end, the kids still come to school every day. Students still show up. And it’s the ones that need it the most, that never ever miss school. Those are the ones that always show up because they
16:58 Marly Q
100% attendance, 100% attendance right here. I needed it the most. And that parent, I’m sorry, that student-teacher relationship that you just emphasized that is what I want to emphasize that I feel along with your student with a service learning model, along with your super high quality up to date curriculum, along with your student support services, right? The STAR’s global prep is an all inclusive campus, right? With children that are, you know, cognitively atypical or on the autism spectrum or have other kind of, you know, learning delays, right? STAR’s global prep is this all-inclusive campus that and can meet students at the level that they’re at with a foundation of kindness. Because that engagement, that connection with your teacher every day that sees you, that hears you, that is empowering you, that says, hey, you can make a difference, right? Every day, because this is a service learning class every single day that we have this conversation. You just, you give me hope. You give hopefully our PARKers listening some inspiration and some hope that there, there are future kind-minded service leaders being, being educated here and I just love that.I want to be able to wrap up our conversation today with this quote that I know is important to you by Helen Keller. The only thing worse than being blind is having sight, but no vision. Right? Like we must be able to first envision the world that we wish to create. We must first be able to have a vision of a world where all humankind is holding that standard of kindness, kindness towards ourselves, kindness towards each other, kindness towards this world that we share. And in moments where we fall and we fail because we do and we’re unkind to ourselves and to each other like kids are, right? Are we teaching our kids and teaching ourselves with kindness and course correcting with like, no, this is the standard, right? This is how we behave as human beings and as leaders and not just how we learn and how we play, but this is how we give back and are involved as active citizens and global citizens in our community.
19:05 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
And that’s why our school campuses, we have two, are inclusive. And we do have students that are not maybe cognitively at grade level, because how can we teach kindness and how can we be kind and not include all students? So you know, it’s part of our mission. It’s a big vision. But I always and thanks to you Marly. Always take a deep breath and remind myself it’s one day at a time, one student at a time, and really trying to have that human connection and leave that mark and hopefully have that student just remember that like you do with your teacher and a teacher that I remember and look back and say, wow, you know, I want to be like that, or I remember that. That’s the vision. That’s the hope.
19:51 Marly Q
And you’re doing it each and every single day. Eglee, thank you. I know how busy you are. I thank you for making this time to be kind with me and our PARKers listening today.
20:00 Dr. Eglee Nunez San Cristobal
Thank you. Thank you, Marly. I appreciate you. Thank you for what you do. Thank you.
I hope you enjoyed this short episode and are inspired to elevate your own vision for the kind of world that we can create together. Achieving our world where everyone is kind and of service to one another takes all of us. So I hope that you were inspired by the fact that educating our youth to be kind to themselves and the world is one step in the right direction. To connect with STAR’s Global Prep and access this episode’s show notes and transcriptions. We’ve made it super easy for you. Just visit us at MarlyQ.com forward slash this episode number. So whatever episode number this episode is, MarlyQ.com forward slash that episode number. Thank you so much for making time to be kind with Marly Q. See you next time.
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