While walking my dog the other day, I thought about how I've been blessed to be surrounded by kind people. My parents. Teachers I had. My husband. My kids. My friends. My brother (both now and growing up). Even my mother-in-law (some folks seem to really strike out in this department by the sound of it). So when I hear stories, particularly stories involving kids and teens, about people who are not surrounded by kind people, my heart dies a little.
Sixteen school-years ago, I began teaching English at a large suburban high school. I no longer teach there, but on that first day of teacher workshops sixteen school-years ago, the principal spoke to us. And one thing he said has stuck with me all these years. He said that if each student had one adult in the building who they trusted and felt connected to, the chances of that student's success increased dramatically. I'm sure he had all kinds of charts and graphs and statistics and evidence to support his statement, but I was still here:
You mean, that's all it takes to increase the success of today's students, those who become tomorrow's adults? Each student just needs one adult in the building they trust? Wow. Supportive parents, a wealthy school district, low-crime areas, healthy meals, enough sleep -- these things help beyond measure -- but if a kid or teen doesn't have those things (or other really helpful things), all they need is to trust one adult in their school building.
And I think the trust starts with kindness and builds from there.