Resilience

Hugh
Hugh McDermott, UNHS Principal

As a former English teacher, there are some words I just love—like “resilience.” I love its meaning and what it stands for, and it’s very easy for me to conjure a mental picture of resilience.

One of the definitions Webster provides for resilience is, “an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change.”

As a principal I have witnessed many students demonstrate resilience. Students who struggled to pass their courses, their resilience showed strongly. These students knew they were struggling in their classes—some had been struggling academically for years!

Sometimes as a teacher, counselor or principal, we would learn and discover more about these students outside of school. It was then we better understood the word resilience! Many times these students came from very difficult personal situations—a broken family, abuse situations or low income. Even though they were dealing with these problems, many did not have an attendance problem. They liked being at school, and once we figured out together how they could be successful, there was nothing stopping them from overcoming anything.

I think resilience springs eternal and internal within each of us. Everyone exudes some resilience, but how one nurtures it makes us all different. Many students who struggle on a daily basis with life around them have resilience but at times it must seem almost like it is extinguished. Others guard and protect what resilience they have because they feel it is all they have. No matter the situation, your resilience will pay off if you work hard enough.

As educators, we carry a responsibility of inspiring hope within all our students. Students have their hopes and dreams, whatever they are, and it is our job to encourage them, support them and motivate them into believing anything is possible.

What examples of resilience have you witnessed or what have you overcome?

Comparison- A Good or Bad Thing?

Ray
Ray Henning, UNHS Academic Adviser

Something that is done a lot in our society is comparison.

People compare themselves with others in many aspects of life. Some of the common areas of comparison are appearance, athletics, education, occupations, possessions, finances, etc. We can feel good or bad about ourselves depending to who or what we are being compared.

Former U.S. President, Teddy Roosevelt, once said, “Comparison is a thief of joy.”

Personally, I have mixed feelings about comparisons. My competitive side sometimes likes to see where I rank to others, but I also realize many comparisons are not fair.

For example, having worked in education for almost 40 years, I have witnessed schools being compared by test scores and designated good or bad based solely on these scores. Obviously, the student clientele at all schools is not the same. To say a school is better because their test scores are higher than another school, may have just a lot to do with who is at the school, rather than what or how the students are being taught.

Using an athletic illustration, imagine two athletes, one with a talent level of ten and the other with a talent level of five. The first athlete is performing at a six and the second athlete is performing at a four. Although a six is higher than a four, the first athlete is using only 60% of his/her ability and the second athlete is performing at 80% of ability—so who is the better athlete?

Thus, perhaps a better way to use comparison is in the area of self-analysis. Are you getting better in whatever areas you are striving to improve?

  1. A good first step is to identify a baseline, a starting point.
  2. The next step is to work to get better and you need to check periodically if you are showing growth.

I particularly like this quote from the famous UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden:

“Success is the peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Things to consider: Would you describe yourself as a success? How about reducing the amount of time you spend comparing yourself to others, but taking a good look at the person in the mirror?