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Ellis Makes “Compassion” a Verb


Modeled after their Eagles Excellence program, Ellis School launched Ellis Compassion Project this year. Spearheaded by Kim Moya, a therapeutic special day class aide and “Compassion Coordinator”, and supported by Ellis Principal, Pepper Butler, the Ellis Compassion Project is a school-wide program that encourages students to be compassionate towards their families, their school community, the Sunnyvale community, and the world.

While the Ellis Eagles Excellence program focuses on positively reinforcing students’ behavior when they are being safe, respectful and responsible, the Compassion Project highlights students compassionate actions at school. Teachers and staff members write up ‘compassion tickets’ for students observed practicing acts of compassion at school. Each ticket states the student’s name, the observer”s name, and a detailed description of the student’s actions or words that demonstrate compassion, e.g., a student offering to read with another student who needs extra help. The principal, Ms. Butler, recognizes each student individually for their documented compassionate acts.

The program also offers ideas for parents to help their children grow up to be caring and compassionate adults, for example, teaching children the gift of giving or how to be responsible at home. For instance, doing chores without being asked is something students can do to be compassionate at home. The Compassion Project at Ellis has its own website, Specific suggestions of how to be compassionate are given, along with pictures of students who have participated in acts of compassion. These include the school’s cereal drive and the Ellis Compassion Choir– a group of teachers, parents, students, and staff who will share their love of singing throughout the Sunnyvale community.

The Ellis Compassion Choir invites the neighboring community to a holiday sing-along on Saturday, December 17, 1:00-2:00 PM, in Ellis’ Multi-purpose room (550 E. Olive Avenue). The choir will be performing and singing with the audience. Refreshments will be served following the program. Everyone is welcome!

Above:  Ellis students with Ms. Moya at the District Office, featuring Ellis’ students art projects with a school-wide theme of compassion.

The newly created website, designed by teacher John Gerth, will be updated as the Ellis community expands their compassion activities and projects with the hope that they will be an inspiration for other schools to do the same. Ms. Kim Moya can be reached at She will be happy to share information on starting a compassion project at other schools.

Article by Nina Wong-Dobkin with assistance from Kim Moya

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