Just Give Back: Fostering Service In Our KidsPosted: June 19, 2012
During graduation there are 2 awards that I focus on: The Valedictorian Award and the Citizenship Award. Choosing the recipient for the Valedictorian Award is simple: Whoever has the highest GPA. The Citizenship Award, on the other hand, has the following criteria:
- Citizenship – The student must be regarded as dependable, and demonstrate respect for people, property, and school rules.
- Attitude – The student is courteous, helpful and caring in his or her relationships with other students and adults.
- Academics – The student continually strives to the limits of his or her abilities, both in the classroom and in the home, to achieve those personal, academic goals which his or her teachers believe are within reach of the student.
- Service – The student readily and unselfishly helps others at home, at school, and in the community to a degree that is judged exceptional.
- Leadership – The student demonstrates an ability to work with and motivate others, has sound values, good judgment, a sense of fairness, and has earned the respect of his or her peers.
- Sportsmanship – The student demonstrates an earnest attempt to do his or her best ability during athletic competitions, shows a respect for the rules of that competition, and in terms of priorities, places the success of the team above a need for personal advancement.
If the Valedictorian or the Citizenship Award recipients were open for employment, which one would you hire?
Striving for the Valedictorian Award takes serious commitment. It tells me three things about the student:
- The student sets his/her goal early.
- The student is mindful about his/her goal on each endeavor.
- The student puts an effort in being consistent in all academic and non-academic activities.
Now, the Citizenship Award recipient for our school is chosen by an agreement between all the teachers and is kept secret until the day of the graduation. For the nine years I have been working for our school, I observed that all the Citizenship Award recipients have the following in common:
SAME AS THE ABOVE 3!
I noticed that the Valedictorian and the Citizenship Award recipient qualities were the same. But, when I looked into it deeper, I saw two major differences:
- The Valedictorian knows he/she could get the award by keeping a high GPA, whereas the Citizenship Award recipient doesn’t know he/she will get it, but has a built in character that fit the 6 criteria above.
- The Valedictorian can receive the highest GPA by working on it as an individual, whereas the Citizenship Award recipient can only be regarded for the award by interacting with others.
As a parent, a teacher, a mentor, a guardian, or a coach, which goal would you want your child or student to foster?
Being a Valedictorian or a Citizenship recipient are both worthy goals, but when it comes to SERVING A COMMUNITY, having the innate character to interact well with others have the upper hand.
When I plan my year, I make sure that my lessons cater to developing the following characteristics within each of my students:
- A leader.
- A good speaker.
- A team player.
- A server.
- A worker.
Notice that none of these characteristics require developing a high GPA, instead they all require developing good social skills that are community friendly.
At the end of the year, when they present the class during graduation, I want to see, not only successful students, but walking and willing servers of the community.
Here’s a glimpse of what I see at the end of the year:
- A musician that would continue to join a band, become a section leader, a teacher, or a conductor to pass on his/her love for music.
- An athlete that would continue to train and start coaching younger kids or their peers on their choice of sport.
- A math or science wiz innovating systems and organizing a team to build new visions.
- A speaker that can motivate their listeners to do their part and never give up in making things better.
- An initiator that starts any club or group that leads others to follow their passion in life.
These are what I consider a 4.0 GPA in my book.
I really want my students to be successful in school, and that means that when they leave my guidance, they will be doing things that MATTER.
And for me, the only way their endeavor in life would matter is when they choose to give or serve.
Albert Schweitzer (a doctor, philosopher, theologian, and musicologist), who won the Noble Peace Price for his work to raise money and build hospitals in Lambarene, Africa, said it best with this quote from his acceptance speech:
“I don’t know what any of you are going to do with your lives, but this I do know, the only ones amongst you who will be truly happy will be those who will have sought and found how to serve.”
To my students, to those working the 9 to 5 grind, to the teachers who continue to foster learning, and to any of us who are willing to do anything that matters…JUST GIVE BACK.