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Every time I power through a fear . . .

One person can change the world . . . As many of you know, we are running an all year in class Character Development Program at all four of the K-4 and the one 5/6 school in the Hartland School District. We feel very lucky to have the chance to touch the live of so many children and parents in Hartland. I wanted to share this touching success story with you: __________________________________________

Dear Lakes Parents,

In our Lakes Character Development Program, “Eagles Take Flight”, we often learn more from the students than they learn from us. This is the classic “where the student becomes the teacher”. Here is one case where a third grader taught all of us a powerful lesson in courage and empathy.

During Sensei’s monthly lessons he will often ask for volunteers to share “success stories” in front of their classmates to help model the desired behavior. In a recent session, he was looking for a student to talk about how they choose to act like a “Type One” person by either doing a little bit extra or by reading someone’s mind. As always happens, a few students shoot their hands up right away but Sensei always looks for the students who does a “half” raise. You know, the ones that either start to raise their hand then pull it down or tentatively rise a hand a little. Sensei was shy when he was young so he knows these are opportunities for a break through – “Every time you back away from a fear the FEAR gets bigger, but every time you power through a fear YOU get bigger."

So, he calls on a third grade girl who very quickly pulls down her half raised hand, looks down at the ground and assumes the very obvious body language that she did not want to come up to speak. But Sensei would not let up. Gently he says “I just cannot not let you comes up!” After another minute of prodding, out of the blue another third grade girl said “I will go up with you!”.

They both came up to the front of the room and the shy little girl was amazing. She spoke like she had no hesitation or fear at all! Amazing! You could tell both teachers in the room were touched by the what they had just witnessed. But this is not the best part of the story.

The odds had to be like lightning hitting twice but on the very next request for volunteers Sensei calls on another girl and guess what? The same thing happens. The little girl did not want to come up. Sensei again persists. Then one of the most surprising and wonderful things happens. The other little third grade girl that had just resisted coming up says “I’ll go up with you!” At this point, the two teachers who knew both girls well were practically in tears.

These two girl’s lives may have been changed forever. If they had been allowed to back away from talking it would have confirmed to them their fear were right. It would just reinforce the belief their fears and shyness were stronger than them. But instead they because more powerful and bigger than their fears.

The second lesson experienced by all those in the room was of empathy. In a world seemingly growing more self-centered and selfish, what a could have been a more perfect example for all of us. The girl who at first was shy and hesitant was the first to raise their hand high to help another shy classmate.

“One person can change the world . . . as a matter of fact it is the only thing that has.”

Yours for stronger kids,

Tony Howerton

Principal, Lakes Elementary School

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