Much of our emphasis at Beechwood, and in the homes of Beechwood parents, is on instilling positive values in our students. All of us can probably agree that we would love for our children to eventually exhibit attributes such as honesty, forgiveness, empathy and humility. The question that I have been considering (and I hope you will too!), is how to best teach Beechwood students what these values are and how to incorporate them into the choices they make everyday.
Up to this point in the school year, we have done a lot of talking about values. We define what they are, give examples and discuss. While this is valuable, in the end, talking about values can only take us so far. As the old saying goes, “talk is cheap”.
In order to really get kids to turn these values into habits we need to do two things: we need to show the children what the values look like and then we need to set them up in situations where they put these virtues into practice.
Today at our upper grade assembly we showed the middle school students a real life example of the values we treasure. We did so in the form of an interview with the 6th grade teacher Mr. Nathan Pantoja. In the interview we talked about how Mr. P, on the first weekend of Christmas Break, took 15 wrestlers all the way to Dixon, California to participate in a tournament. Instead of spending the weekend relaxing at home, he chose to drive 400 miles and provide these lucky kids with an opportunity to compete against other wrestlers. That is the type of kind and selfless behavior that we want our kids to witness and to emulate. As the year progresses, we will continue to present the children with examples of people (teachers, fellow students and parents), who are living their lives in a way that is exemplary.
As parents, you better believe that our children are watching us. What do they see? Do they see a person who reaches out to help others? Do they see someone who is honest, empathetic and caring? Someone who listens? I am going to try my best, in this New Year, to show my own children, and the children of Beechwood, what virtuous behavior looks like.
The second piece is practice. To that end, starting in the New Year we will begin preparations for Community Service Week. In February, each class will take on a project that will help make our community a better place. When the children ask why we are doing this, we will tell them: “Because it is the right thing to do”. Hopefully, they will have a positive experience and look for more opportunities to provide service to others. We hope you will reinforce this effort in your own homes.
Only through observation, reflection and practical application can young people truly internalize the behaviors that will make the world a better place. Let’s do our part, as the adults that they look up to, to lead the way.