Valparaiso Community Schools: Recognize the Simple Pleasures of Life

Kay-MagnettiLife is busy. Young and old, working and retired, our calendars quickly fill up with appointments, meetings and to-do lists. Children have a myriad of activities in which they participate, and evenings, for some, are frequently spent running from one sport to the next.

This sense of “busy-ness” has become part of American culture. All of this could make it easy to lose sight of all the good and amazing kindness that takes place right under our noses — in our town, in our schools and in our homes. Many could argue that we’ve lost the art of stopping to smell the roses.

During November, Valparaiso Community Schools students and staff are participating in a corporation-wide activity to change all that. In conjunction with Culture and Student Services, everyone has been provided a Thankfulness Journal. The journals contains lines to write about things for which we are thankful each day for 21 days.

Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a surgeon in the 1950s, is credited with the theory that it takes a minimum of 21 days to make or break a habit, to alter daily patterns and/or thought processes. In attempts to slow down, and recognize the good in our lives, every student, teacher, principal and staff member will “drop everything and write” for a few minutes each day for 21 days.

At Northview Elementary, our school writes for a few minutes immediately following the morning announcements. Because we are all participating, we are concurrently building community and camaraderie.

Students are taking note that even the adults are writing and sharing what they’ve written. Adults in the building appreciate the time to record the simple and pleasing aspects of daily life.

While educators build their lesson plans around the Indiana Academic Standards for each content area, character education is an increasingly important component to instruction. Life skills like respect, responsibility, gratitude, personal best, caring and integrity are highlighted in our schools, in attempts to proactively and positively affect behavior and create lifelong habits.

We as adults, regardless of our age, need life skills to help us navigate the ever changing world. In business, in friendships, with colleagues and even with family, having a core set of values helps us to relate and build community. While we may have differing opinions, conducting ourselves with respect and integrity is essential in having healthy relationships and in building community.

Lake the students in the Valparaiso Community Schools system who are learning life skills, with gratitude at the forefront in November, take some time to recognize the simple and everyday pleasures in your life.