Degrees and Certifications:
“How we behave matters because within human society everything is contagious -
sadness and anger, yes, but also patience and generosity. Which means we all have more influence than we realize.”
Elizabeth Gilbert, O Magazine, May 2016
Influence is serious business. We influence for good and for bad, and we do it every moment, in every action. This time of year, schedules are crazy, nerves are shot, relationships are strained, but how we behave, how we treat each other, matters as it always does. I am once again reminded that I need to practice patience and generosity with others and myself.
Learning and influence result when meaningful connections occur. Connections are facilitated in safe, respectful environments. I am not often moved by the person concerned with being right. More often, I am impacted by the person who listens. Those interested in connecting and finding solutions, regardless of differences in perspective, impact change. In his book, The Courage to Teach, Parker J. Palmer says, “If we stopped lobbing […] points at each other and spoke about who we are […], a remarkable thing might happen: identity and integrity might grow within us and among us, instead of hardening as they do when we defend our fixed positions from the foxholes.” This type of risk-taking, trust-building, generates respectful relationships. Within these types of relationships, bridges are built, walls are torn down. This is what we want for our children and each other.
Safe places are necessary for positive impact. Hope, resilience, and the ability to connect with others appropriately are important attributes. During this graduation season, we celebrate our successes and grieve our losses. As educators, we empower our students, teaching them to ask good questions, research outcomes and options, and engage respectfully. But, are we modeling this behavior? Children aren’t the only ones watching. Our world is broader with the magnification of social media. All of our behaviors affect others. One of my favorite experiences is listening to others share their stories from a place of authenticity. Their trust and insights influence me. Different opinions are valuable to me and shape my thinking. Respectful dialogue is paramount for influence.
Educating and parenting are all about influencing young lives, and I am proud of our work at Lewis-Palmer School District. Partnering with our community and families, we have equipped the Class of 2017 for their next steps whether in college or careers. In May, approximately 560 seniors from our two high schools will walk across the stage at graduation and pick up their diplomas. This celebration marks the end of one season and the beginning of another. This milestone results because of significant connections: connections at home, at play, at work, and at school.