Next week our students will return to school, as they return we will do our best to instruct them in the subjects and skills that they will need to know to be successful in life. One of the things that I hope we teach and model for them is “kindness.” During the past two weeks, I have had the opportunity to greet our new teachers, mentors and also our entire staff. When I have the opportunity to talk with staff members in the various buildings and departments, I can feel the pride they have in being part of the McFarland School District and the excitement they have seeing their colleagues and students.
I know that the administrators and their staff have worked hard over the summer to prepare for the return of the staff and students and that the staff in each building and department have been preparing for the return of our students. Being the grandfather (Papa) of two grandsons, Sam and Gordie, I know they are looking forward to going back to being with their teachers and friends and that their parents are also looking forward to them going back to school and the routine that the school year brings.
I enjoy seeing all this excitement and energy for the new school year. I don’t want this emotion to fade for either staff or students. I believe that this positive energy can continue and grow, if we remember to be kind. I believe that if we model kindness and respect that these lessons will carry over to everyone we meet regardless of age or responsibility. I am writing about this topic now because I am especially sensitive to those students who may not feel that excited about coming back to school and who might have found the past school year of virtual instruction a reprieve from being bullied and put down. My heart aches for these students and I believe that by practicing kindness and respect, we can make school a place they want to be and not a place that causes them anxiety and pain.
I think these students hold a special place for me because I remember what it was like to be bullied when I was younger. Being small of stature made me an easy target for individuals who wanted to make themselves feel superior to others by putting them down, for any number of reasons. I was fortunate to have a supportive family who always reminded me that I could achieve anything if I was willing to work long enough and hard enough. As I grew to adulthood, I wanted to do what I could to make people feel valued and respected. I want people to remember how important and valuable they are to the success of others. I found that being kind was the best way to get this message across.
As I walk through the various buildings, I see encouraging signs and sayings on our walls and I hope that we will make those sayings come to life in our interactions. It takes very little effort or time to treat others with kindness, but the impact that this will have on the lives of those individuals will be immeasurable. I have made it a personal rule in my life, never to ask others to do something that I am not willing to do. So, to the best of my ability, I will try to treat each person that I come in contact with in a kind and respectful manner. I ask that as you come in contact with others that you do the same – treat your neighbors, colleagues, students and each individual you meet with the kindness and respect that you would want them to show you. If we each do that, then we will change lives in a positive way that will be greater than any other lesson we could teach.
I am proud to be a part of this staff and to be a Spartan. I have been treated with kindness and respect by every person that I have come in contact with since my first day and I know how good that made me feel. I hope that the interactions we have with others during this school year will leave each and every one of them with the same positive and pleasant feelings. So in closing, wear a smile, remember that you can never take back a word once it is spoken and be kind to yourself and others.