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What’s Love Got To Do With It? Unveiling the Heartbeat of Compassion

Categories: Activities, Educator Community, Educators, General, In the news, Volunteerism, Whole Child Literacy

Arielle holding Valentine's Day cardsAt a time of the year often dimmed by cold, gray weather, there exists a ray of warmth that unites hope and camaraderie. This beacon, embodied by the Learning Ally Educator Community, Volunteer Nation, and the Sunshine Committee’s Share the Love program, is a testament to the timeless truth spoken by James Mathew Barrie: “Those who bring sunshine to others, cannot keep it from themselves.”

Our Share the Love program is simple. Educators sign up to receive a valentine, while staff, volunteers, and partners send valentines to educators. Tokens of appreciation vary from heartfelt notes and inspirational messages to chocolates and gift cards, and even something as unique as a fantasy game or enriching books for class libraries. The intention is clear: to spark joy, to inspire, and to elevate educators. 

Beneath this simplicity lies a profound impact. Share the Love is more than an annual event; it's a movement of love and kindness to educators radiating from Learning Ally, unified by the purpose of brightening a teacher’s day and sharing warmth with persons we’ve never met. This year, over 65 Valentine matches have been made, adding to the over 200 matches since the inception of this program three years ago. But the true measure extends beyond numbers; it's about the enduring effects of acts of kindness and companionate love. Dr. Terrie Noland, Vice President of Thought Leadership and Community, remarks on the profound importance of community and goodwill – “It is through kindness that we see the human spirit uplifted. As we radiate goodness to others, we ignite a revolution of individuals driven to spread love, creating a community bound by compassion and goodwill.”

Central to Learning Ally’s ethos is the cultivation of an emotional culture where companionate love thrives, actively nurturing employee well-being. The Sunshine Committee, an 18-person, voluntary, cross-functional team, exemplifies this commitment. This team not only champions the work of the Educator Community through annual programming, but embodies the spirit of Share the Love throughout the year.

Elizabeth Zwerg, Learning Ally Educator Community Manager, reflects on the significance of the emotional culture, “Building a positive culture is crucial to our work, but the Sunshine Committee also deeply values how our members feel. Beyond our cognitive culture are the emotions and feelings that underpin our interactions. When these cultural elements converge, companionate love blooms.”

Maya Angelou once said ‘people will never forget how you made them feel,’ and that's what I think this program is all about,” says Eleanor Cotton, Director of Thought Leadership and Community at Learning Ally. 

Acts of kindness, though small in isolation, collectively foster an emotional culture built on trust, empathy, and compassion. The overwhelming support for Learning Ally’s Share the Love initiative, evident in the more than 50% growth in participation, is a testament to its impact. Paul Garcia, a community member and educator, shares his heartfelt thanks, “I received your wonderful Valentine's gift today… Thank you for your kind words. Learning Ally is a special organization...lifting us up in ways you can’t imagine. Talk about magic - you've indeed created it!”

As we embrace the traditions of Valentine's Day, let us remember to sprinkle our days with the essence of companionate love. It's a simple gift that not only enriches the lives of our coworkers but reverberates through our broader communities, weaving a tapestry of connection and warmth that can light up the darkest of days. 
Join the Educator Community and be a part of the movement towards literacy for all.

Written by:Elizabeth Zwerg

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