Good afternoon FLRSD,
It is hard to believe that November is here and that in 8 weeks 2022 will be a memory. Time, no matter how much we want to try to slow it down, continues to move forward and with it the lost daily opportunities that make a difference and impact a life- whether it is for someone close to us or someone we do not know. What we do know is we are ALL better because of the lessons and experiences of kindness and empathy someone showed us along the way.
The story below which was shared with me many years ago by an incredible teacher reminds me of the power and choice we all have in helping to teach, nurture and empower others and the realization of the damage that we can cause simply by how we handle a situation. All of us reading this understand why we have rules and the need for structure, yet within the compliance of those rules we have a choice in how we speak with people. I hope in some way this resonates with you and you can recall one or more people who taught a lesson with kindness woven in. In fact I encourage you to thank them in some way.
“A gentleman in his 70’s is strolling from breakfast on a Saturday when he walks past a young man who asks: “Do you remember me Mr Davis?” The gentleman says “No”. Then the young man tells him he was his student, and the teacher asks: “ Mark is that you? What do you do, what path did you take?”
The young man answers:
“Well, I became a teacher.” and Mr Davis smiles and says “Ah, how good, like me”
“Well, yes. In fact, I became a teacher because you inspired me to be like you.”
Mr. Davis, curiously asks the young man why he decided to become a teacher. And the young man tells him the following story:
“I hope you remember this. One day, a friend of mine, also a student in our class, came in with a nice new watch, and I decided I wanted it. I stole it, I took it out of his pocket and put it in my backpack. Shortly after, my friend noticed his watch was missing and immediately complained to you.
You addressed our class saying, ‘Michael’s watch was stolen during class today. Whoever stole it, please return it. I do not want to call the Principal or even worse have the principal call the police.’ The young teacher said “I didn't give it back because I didn't want to and because I was jealous that Michael always had nice new things and I never had anything” He mumbled how embarrassed he was saying that!
You closed the door and told us all to stand up behind our desks which we formed in a circle and we placed our backpack on our desk. You were going to search our backpacks one by one until the watch was found and you walked inside the circle. However, you told us to close our eyes, because you would only look for his watch if we all had our eyes closed. We did as instructed but I must say as a teacher now I am not sure that would work. You went from backpack to backpack, and when you went through mine you found the watch and took it. You kept searching everyone's backpack, and when you were done you said ‘open your eyes. We have the watch.’ You didn't tell on me and you never mentioned the episode. You never said who stole the watch either. That day you saved my dignity forever. It was the most shameful day of my life. But this is also the day I decided not to become a thief, a bad person, etc. You never said anything, nor did you even scold me or take me aside to give me a moral lesson.
I received your message clearly. Thanks to you, I understood what kindness felt like and I wanted to do that for other children like me who made mistakes. Do you remember this episode, Mr. Davis?”
Mr Davis answered, “Yes, I remember the situation with the stolen watch, which I was looking for in everyone’s backpack. I didn't remember it was you, because I also closed my eyes while looking.”
This is the essence of teaching:
‘If in your correction you do not humiliate,
you truly know how to teach.’
Our Faculty, paraprofessionals, Principals,Assistant Principals,Secretaries, Nurses, IT and Library Staff, SRO, Counselors, School Psychologists, OT and PT, Food Service, Maintenance and Custodial Staff, Schedulers, Coaches and Advisors as well as Central Office Administration and Staff, Town Officials and Employees, First Responders, School Committee and our community partners continue to help, listen attentively and carefully work to correct and redirect when necessary in ways that are draped in kindness. And for that, I applaud them as it is not always easy.
Be safe, be healthy and I hope that you reach out to someone who has guided you with kindness when others might not have, and give the same in return to someone.
Alan Strauss, Superintendent- email@example.com
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