Last year a Wylie High School student, friend, and teammate of my son passed away unexpectedly. The student was a smart and vibrant leader with charisma that attracted many friends and admiration. Soon after hearing the tragedy, the football team gathered in their locker room to grieve and reflect. School Resource Officer Willie Wilkins joined the group. Officer Wilkins is a special person that kids love. Willie asked the team if he could have a moment to reflect on this young man’s life and pray with them to provide comfort. Officer Wilkins brought more peace and support to the team at that moment with his sincerity and words than anyone else. In my son’s words, Officer Wilkins had no motive; he just loved kids and cared about them. Through his words and actions, Officer Wilkins earned the RESPECT of the young people in his care. We feel respected when we recognize the rights and worth of others. Respect stops us from hurting others.
EARNED OR BIRTHRIGHT?
Some people believe that we earn respect with age, title, experience, or education. Others believe that respect is something we are born with and something everyone deserves. We can all agree that respect is gained in years and lost in moments through our words and actions.
KINDNESS OVER CRUELTY
Officer Wilkins started with a fair amount of respect by building relationships with these kids that grew deeper with his words and actions in a moment they needed him most. He didn’t deliver a lecture or levy judgment. He showed love and support. Lately, it seems, society has placed value on rage and submission towards those who don’t share their views or feelings. Many believe that when faced with a different belief or concern, escalating the problem with words and actions is their responsibility. Willie Wilkins thinks the values of kindness and caring are more effective at building relationships and earning respect than cruelty, lectures, or judgment.
OUR KIDS ARE AMAZING
During our Wylie Way Day, we asked kids how respect feels? How do we know when someone respects us, and what do they do to let us know they are showing respect? We asked students who they respected and why? They logged their responses into their Achievement Profiles.
The parents of this kid need a medal. Wow, I am impressed! You can find out more about your student by logging onto their Achievement Profile (in grades 5-12).
Their district username and password are required. web.wylieisd.net/dashboard.
Stress from the Pandemic has brought out the best and worst in all of us. We all feel a little less respectful. A breaking point often involves our children and their education. These short fuses have resulted in a drastic uptick in angry emails and phone calls from concerned parents, citizens, and educators, resulting in some pretty creative name-calling and ugly language directed at yours truly. I write some of them down. They are creative and original. This rage is directed at me but is the result of frustration from somewhere else. My ability to listen, learn, and de-escalate the situation builds relationships on a foundation of mutual respect. I have laughed with more than one person who directed some pretty nasty “bus language” my way.
If you feel the stress on your home or school relationships, I encourage you to listen to our podcast with a child psychologist, Dr. Kelly Jameson. She talks about stress and how to deal with it constructively. Her primary message is that adults set the values that define how they see the world. CLICK HERE TO LISTEN
Our message to kids is that everyone deserves respect. Respect is earned by how we treat others. We have learned that our kids learn respect from people like Officer Willie Wilkins.
I believe that great days are ahead for our kids and community by raising them with the values that give them hope, well-being, and engagement, by living it, the Wylie Way!