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In my first two weeks of school I have witnessed things that are not assessed in state mandated tests, but are nevertheless cornerstones of a good education and strong school culture; acts of compassion, unselfishness & pride. In a series of short stories I would like to share 3 unbelievable life lessons I've been fortunate enough to be part of in only the first 2 weeks of school. These stories are why I became an educator.
Compassion: The Small Boy Meets Girls with Big Hearts
A veteran custodian came to me on the second day of school and said he had to share with me a story he witnessed that day at lunch. He told me "I have never seen anything like this in my 25+ years here and wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes." He proceeded to tell me that a very small and timid freshman boy stood alone in the corner of the very crowded (300 student) cafeteria literally shaking, obviously without a place to sit, or a friend to sit with. A table of senior girls sat close by and noticed the boy. After a brief discussion, 1 of the girls went to the boy, crouched down beside him and talked. After a minute the boy smiled and joined the girl and her friends at the table.
I was so proud to here this. The next day I couldn't wait to see if the boy was back at the table...he was! I had to join them and acknowledge this simple, yet powerful act of compassion. I sat next to the boy and broke the ice by asking what his secret was to getting all the girls - we all laughed. I thanked the girls for welcoming our new student and told them how very proud I was to know them.
Unselfishness: The Giving Man
There is a wonderful man, who happens to be mentally challenged, that I have grown very fond of in my years of education. He has volunteered for over a decade for our football, baseball and basketball teams. Last Friday I was on my way to school and witnessed him walking with a shopping cart full of empty cans and bottles. When I pulled over he was sweating profusely, obviously from hours worth of can/bottle collection. I asked him what he was up to- he responded, "just trying to make some extra money." I shook his hand and wished him luck on tonight's football game.
Later that day when leaving the building I noticed a crowd of football players crowded around the shopping cart I viewed several hours before. But instead of empty bottles and cans, it was full of ice cold Gatorade. I pulled my friend aside and asked him what was going on. He told me he spent the day finding cans and bottles to turn in so he could buy the team drinks for the game. I had to fight back the tears, smiled, and gave him a hug! I was in the presence of an angel.
Sharp Dressed Man
My nephew is in 7th grade attending our local middle school. He has always prided himself on dressing nice. He typically dresses for school like any other 12-year old- jeans, shirt and sneakers. One day he decided to wear a suit to school. Now we all know that is a brave act for a middle school kid. After a series of odd looks, giggling and quiet comments among friends, it finally happened.... he was asked by another student "why are you so dressed up for school?" Clumps of students eagerly anticipated his response. He looked calmly at the student and responded, "Why are you NOT dressed up for school?" Wow, what a great catch phrase for having a dress code! I am proud of my nephew for his courage and ability to express himself in a positive manner.