A couple of weeks ago, we joined Rockwall ISD visitors at Wylie East to learn about the Raider AFJROTC program. Our AFJROTC programs are considered among the nationally elite and frequently visited as the standard for excellence. My heart swelled with pride when Cadet Colonel Jacob Cline, Corps Commander began his presentation with a standard of grace and elegance that could only be matched by a professional. His words and descriptions weren’t arrogant, they were measured and purposeful, full of recognition for others and gratitude for his teacher, Colonel Brooks McFarland. We all wanted to join following the presentation. The pride exuded from each of the four students, Cline, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Adriana Garcia, Deputy Corps Commander for Academics and Logistics, Cadet Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Garcia, Deputy Corps Commander for Operations and Cadet Chief Master Sergeant Faith McLaughlin, Corps Command Chief, as they shared their knowledge and love for a program that has not only enhanced their school experience but has impacted their lives.
My takeaway from this experience; these Raiders were proud to represent Wylie East and the AFJROTC. My emotions got the best of me, thinking how proud these parents and the teachers must be to consider them our own. We should all be proud of these kiddos and how they represent the Wylie Way. The world is a better place with Wylie ISD kids.
PROUD OF OUR VALUES
More than 10 years ago, teachers, parents, board members, administrators, and community leaders met in the boardroom to answer one question, “What values would you like for a future citizen to possess when graduating from Wylie ISD?” Participants listed each value on a sticky note and were asked to group similar values on the wall. The top values were to be considered standards for how we grow our kids in character and citizenship. Respect, responsibility, and grit were among the values that led the pack. However, one wall was covered in post-it notes with two words, “caring and giving.” Five times more than any other single value to be specific.
A year following, trustees added two values, “gratitude and celebration” and collectively they became the foundation of the Wylie Way.
The foundation of the Wylie Way was conceived by citizens, parents, and educators coming together and crafting a set of values they would like a future graduate of Wylie ISD to possess as an adult. Values aren’t accidental — at least they shouldn’t be. Pride shows our values and when you feel pride, it’s typically because you know what you stand for and it’s when your identity shines through. Now, this isn’t arrogant pride, but rather what you feel in your heart when you see someone you love succeed. It’s that pride that we feel when we take care of those who need us the most. When we think about pride, we also must remember there are some who are too proud to ask for help. In this season of giving, we want to talk to our kids about finding ways to help those in our community.
My experience as an educator is that our kids are pretty great. As a parent, I learned that my own kiddos loved to give back, spend money they earned on others and experience the joy of caring and giving to others. This video could not provide a better description of how our Wylie ISD represents our schools and community with hearts as big as Texas.
CARING AND GIVING, THE WYLIE WAY
During this nine weeks, our focus turns to helping our kids learn about and experience the pride of giving and caring for each other, the Wylie Way. We will conduct food drives, gift drives, sing at nursing homes, and provide general help to those in need. We encourage families to join us. Encouraging your kid to give and care for others by allowing them to practice is the best way to help and is appreciated very much. When children realize they have friends in school and in the community in need and that those friends will receive the benefit of their donations, it builds self-awareness, grows kindness, and increases the value of their gift because it matters just a little more than writing a check to a national organization that may or may not impact our community.
Today marks the start of our annual Christian Care Center food drive, which helps kick off our focus on caring and giving. We’ve held this drive for several years now, and last year alone, our Wylie ISD family collected more than 107,500 items and donated nearly $18,000. Like in many communities across the Metroplex, there are families within our own community who need our help. The food drive, which runs through Nov. 10, is one that makes an impact on our community and helps teach our kids about the power of caring about others and giving back.
Wylie Way Christmas and Holidays is another way we help give back, and it’s now in its 7th year! Each year, nearly 500 of our families are adopted. Thanks to your generosity, that means we are able to serve more than 1,000 students every holiday season. Our common gift requests are a coat, shoes, and a book… things so many of us take for granted. If you’re new to Wylie, “adoption” tags are available at our campuses and the ESC the week before we leave for Thanksgiving break. Our community takes care of one another, and in all the years we’ve had this event, we have never had a tag leftover.
WHO WE ARE AS A GROUP
The AFJROTC leaders, the campuses, families, places of worship, business and community organizations that feed our hungry and cloth our children are examples of the values we want to set for our kids to follow. These same AFJROTC students are also responsible for picking up and delivering the collected food from the campuses to the food pantry. How proud we are that our kids lead with words and actions. I am honored to serve such a wonderful collection of amazing people that live the values we want to grow as a community. Together, we make this world a better place and I couldn’t be more proud to call this, the Wylie Way.