In my role, I have the opportunity and privilege of attending many graduation ceremonies. At the one I attended most recently, I was conversing with one of our Trustees about the fact that she knew almost every student who was graduating. She said, “Yes, Jeff. I know most of them. And you know – they each have the most amazing story.”
These few words remind all of us that education is, indeed, a personal endeavor. As much as learners work in groups and “classes” each learns according to the context he or she brings to the act of learning. When we talk about the personalization of learning, we aren’t changing the learner. Instead, we are adapting the environment for learning to meet the unique and personal needs of each learner.
At the same graduation I observed the faculty who were beaming with pride. They knew each student, and truly cared for each of them. The faculty knew the challenges and the victories each student had experienced. The faculty knew the families of the students. They truly care for and cherished each of these remarkable young people. They withheld judgment and invited each student to thrive as an individual – with unique strengths, skills, interests, opportunities and challenges. Absent of judgment, each student was welcomed as a unique and wonderful human being.
Said the teacher speaker, “This group of graduates is truly unique in how individual each student is.” I wondered at that point of this was because the students had intentional opportunities to grow into their own unique selves?
I have said repeatedly that I believe the times we are in are perhaps the most challenging in the history of humankind for children and youth to survive and thrive. An intentional focus on getting to know each individual is critical if we are going to help them become.
Congratulations to all of our graduates. I hope your journey through the threshold into the unknown future – the one you will experience and create – is inspiring, hopeful, filled with joy and laughter and the love and care of those who know YOU.
Thank you to our staff, parents, caregivers and communities, for contributing to the lived experience of these wonderful young people.