In meeting a new family to LME this week, the question was asked of me by the student, “What does this school do in the way of building character everyday?” No joke! Besides the usual list (Essential Miller 5, Rachel’s Challenge, Morning Message, R Time, KC Club, and others), I shared how we work daily to build strong relationships and interpersonal skills. Most importantly though, we embrace and highly value the significant role our families play in the lives of our students. The significant adults in the home are a child’s first teacher; we respect the work they do before our learners begin their educational journey with us. In our society today, the “traditional family” is no longer the norm; it is the exception. On campus demographics show that an increasing number of our students are being raised by grandparents, extended family members, and blended families. To support our students in these changing roles, we must strive to ensure they have the character building tools needed to become effective leaders of tomorrow. Looking back at our own families (traditional or not), we realize it is often the wisdom and strong examples of those in our extended family who played a vital role in who we are today.
For example, from an early age, I was blessed to live in the same area as both sets of grandparents. I witnessed time and again their selfless acts of reaching out to others to help meet needs through various community, church, and other civic activities. There was always a meal, cards, flowers from the garden, or something going somewhere to someone. Most importantly though, I remember when a person’s “word” was good enough and a strong work ethic, service, and high expectations were just the norm. My parents and grandparents walked what they talked and carried hope and strong belief in others and themselves (most especially in me!). Without a doubt, they each had a part in the person I am today.
As our staff reflects and looks to the future for our learners, we do our personal best to remember the wisdom gained from our past experiences. As educators, we have to be willing to pass on this wisdom to those in our charge everyday as we build future leaders of strong character. Most importantly, we appreciate everything you do before, during, after our work to support us! May 2013 be a year each learner remembers as a time of building strong character.