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Happy New Year

Happy New Year!
By Dr. Mark A. Jennings
September 11, 2019


Yes, I know that January 1 is officially when the calendar changes, But, if you are in school, work in a school, or have kids in school, September 1 seems more like the New Year.  When school starts, everything changes. The alarm bell rings a little earlier (teens have to get up before noon). Lunches get made (before breakfast is finished). Drop-off and pick-up times become critical. Schedules fill up with clubs, sports, and other activities. New classes. New teachers. Homework begins. School supplies. School uniforms. School calendar. And so on.  It is Labor Day, not New Year’s Day that marks the transition of time.  And so, as you begin this New Year – might I suggest a few New Year’s Resolutions: 

  1. Grit matters more than grades, so work hard. Grades are a snapshot of someone’s level of understanding of a set material at a given moment. No more. No less.  Grades do not tell you how successful you will be. They say nothing about who you are as a person. What matters more than grades is your grit. Did you give your full effort? Did you keep working to improve your understanding? Did you see setbacks as opportunities to get better?  This year, do not set “good grades” as your goal – set “good grit” as your goal. It is grit, more than grades, that will set the course of one’s life. After all, value lies when you meet a challenge, not when you do something that required little effort. Grades are a moment. Grit lasts a lifetime.

  2. Look up, look down. SSCA is a unique place – with students from Preschool to Grade 12. This means for the vast majority of students, there are students younger and there are students older. Therefore, consider the students younger than you. Set the good example. Be the type of student that younger ones should emulate. Likewise, consider those older than you and the pace they are setting. Be willing to follow them as they set the example for you.  Care about those in your charge and follow those who have come before you.

  3. Be kind to one another.  Each morning, SSCA ends morning announcements with a simple phrase “Be kind to each other.” When we are kind, we are a blessing to others. Being kind requires muscular acts. To be kind, one needs to be aware, holding our gaze long enough to see who is having a tough day and how we can help. To be kind, one needs to insert themselves into situations – such as sitting by someone at lunch, walking with them to class, inviting them to be part of a “chat group,” picking up dropped books, holding the door, smiling, saying hello, asking about their day (and waiting for the answer), and so on.  Being unkind is easy and lazy. Being kind (and unkind) reflects character. Realize it isn’t all about you (because, it isn’t). Every moment, each of us has a choice to be kind or unkind. Parents, when you ask your student about his/her day, consider asking: Who was kind to you today? To whom did you show kindness? This year, choose kindness.

  4. Breathe. Sleep. No Drama. There are very few things that occur during the course of a day that require immediate attention.  Some things do – medical emergencies, for example. Most of the time, for both students and adults, a situation is improved by just chilling out for a bit.  The immediate email or text sent back in frustration or anger rarely works out. Life will throw several curveballs at each of us this year – that is part of living. SSCA isn’t perfect – because it is full of people. If we take time to breathe before we act, we are much more likely to reduce the drama, rather than escalate it. There are those who are “fire extinguishers” and those who are “fire starters.” The former have wonderful memories, the latter – not so much.