A Teacher's Graduation Gift

Inspiring students to connect with others, to listen, to inquire and to put humanity at the forefront as they begin the rest of their lives

Posted in , May 24, 2018


One December in the early 1990’s, my parents gave each of us kids a Christmas note which included the piece Twelve Things to Remember (author anonymous):

The Value of Time

The Success of Perseverance

The Pleasure of Working

The Dignity of Simplicity

The Worth of Character

The Power of Kindness

The Influence of Example

The Obligation of Duty

The Wisdom of Economy

The Virtue of Patience

The Improvement of Talent

The Joy of Originating

I have this framed and hung in a place where I can see it every day. It serves as a reminder of my parents and the importance of pausing and taking stock of the control each of us has in our daily lives to be purposeful and mindful of how we approach our lives.

At the end of the academic year, I laminate a copy of this piece for each of my students. I make it pocket/wallet size in case they are inclined to keep in close to them. Today was the last day of my class for this academic year and my students were all seniors. I asked each of them to reflect on one of the points and write down how that point played out in their last year of high school. Here’s what they wrote:

The Improvement of Talent: 

Being in a play for the first time senior spring.

Learning that baseball was a hidden talent. I have only ever seen myself as a basketball player.

The Dignity of Simplicity:

Appreciating the little things, like chatting and eating with friends in the dining hall.

The Value of Time:

Figuring out what is most important in life and appropriately allocating time in order to improve one’s mental and physical health to live a better life.

In my six years as a student here, I have learned to manage my time well. 

During my fifth year of high school, I was so depressed since all of my friends were already in college. Despite this, I made the best of this year through my family and friends.

Hopefully, in college, I can spend my time wisely and find the balance of when to have fun and when to study. 

The Virtue of Patience:

By waiting out the year and staying positive with the kids in my dorm, I was able to be a better proctor.

Patience is something I need to work on.

The Power of Kindness:

Personally, the most profound occasion that relates to kindness would be when one of my teachers was the first to notice I was not doing well mentally. I was struggling at home and the kindness my teacher showed me got me up in the morning.  

The Pleasure of Working:

I feel it is important to love what you do.

I am proud of the honesty of these young men, and I am excited for the opportunities they have ahead of them. They have much to take with them, in terms of education, inside and outside of the classroom. I hope that they remember their value, the power of vulnerability, the many opportunities to connect with others, to listen, to inquire, and the chance to put humanity at the forefront as they live out their days.

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