Sunrise: A Year of Looking Forward~An Open Letter to My Students

Lake Michigan Sunrise

I began today--the last day of summer break, with an early morning run. It wasn’t a run like I used to have before my accident, but I am coming to accept that it is what I will have--and so I value it. It’s 5 am and I’m spending that run thinking about you. Why, when I haven’t even met you? Because I’m thinking about this run, about adversity, persistence, resilience and how we (I include myself in this) can work together to not give up on the real purpose of life...and of school.

The main reason that we are coming together this year is not to focus on academic learning. Sure, it will be important for you to learn mathematical reasoning, historical thinking, and how to read critically--but it isn’t the main point of school.

The main point of school is learning how to persist in the face of adversity, how to build resilience within yourself and to never quit~even when how you are performing isn’t what you had hoped. Helping you learn to overcome the realities of life: friends, goals, hopes, chance happenings, your own inner thoughts, this is what I know we will spend some of the most meaningful parts of our days on. Learning this will extend to everything you ever do, well beyond our time together.

Dealing with the main point of school (of life) is going to be the hardest thing that you do--becoming deeply empathetic, self-reflective, goal-oriented~someone who is sustained through the most difficult times...though it will take your lifetime to achieve, we will begin this journey together. And this is why I spend my quiet time thinking about you. I know that these days are going to be hard and that there will be times that you will want to quit~and I have found that your quitting (as I have seen in myself) can be quiet (when you will not try) and long-lasting (when you do not give your best). And though you will have beautiful and amazing times in life, you will also confront sadness, frustration, and even tragedy. Therefore, you must grow within yourself the ability to face adversity without fear. Fear only exists when we do not see possibility for ourselves--and you must know: all things are possible.

I promise you~I’m not going to let quitting be easy for you (I don’t let it be easy for me). I’m going to challenge you, set the bar high, help you find your way. Each day, I will be waiting for you to start anew: new sunrise, new day, new chance. Why? Because that’s what I do for myself and you are worth this much.

We will step up together, without excuses or justifications. And no quitting. We will struggle through and begin each day, just like the sunrise, with possibility.

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"Each of us must become impassioned, finding meaning and self-fulfillment in our own life's journey." Alexandra Stoddard

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