I recently met with other school leaders when this question was posed, “How do we engage with our school values when we’re tired, overwhelmed, and generally not at our best?” I’ve been thinking about this question for several days now. I wonder, with all the things happening in the world that might make us feel sad, angry, confused, and not at our best, how might we cope with the emotions we have as individuals, and how do we care for other members of our community?
At Belmont Day, we often discuss our core values of respect, responsibility, excellence, honesty, joy, and caring. They are our guideposts, the principles that guide our behavior. As I think about a literal guidepost—a sign at a fork in the road that tells us where each path leads—I connect it to our agency to choose how to behave in any given moment or situation. We can be honest or dishonest, respectful or disrespectful, responsible or irresponsible, or any variation. All of the choices we make are a signal of our humanity. They are reminders that we are imperfect and that we can make mistakes.
I want to acknowledge that this has been a difficult week for me. I am not feeling my best physically or mentally. With pressures around work-related tasks and meetings, friends seeking support from me, and a very upsetting news cycle, I feel burdened with a heavy weight on my shoulders. In times like this, it is challenging to find joy in every moment, to strive for excellence in all that I’m doing, or to care for others when I want to be cared for myself.
And yet, I know that creating small moments of joy and caring will beget more joy and caring in my life. Being mindful about respecting others will reflect respect back to me. When I take responsibility for my words and actions, I encourage others to do the same. And I know how I care for others creates a ripple of caring that permeates our entire Belmont Day family. I encourage us all to care for each other in difficult times. It could be as simple as asking a friend, “How are you?” and stopping to listen to the answer. It could be writing a note saying, “I thought of you today.” Or it could be offering a hug to someone who looks sad.
The world often comes at us all in big, bad, and seemingly relentless ways. It can feel like a tide threatening to overtake us. Remember, though, that this is exactly when community matters most, and our acts to support it have their most profound effect. In our small ways, putting our values into action, caring, and looking out for each other, will always lift all of us.
I wish you a peaceful, joyous, restful, and engaging weekend.