Childs: Determination shows from kindergarten all the way up to the workforce

It is true that leadership comes in many forms, and those leaders find their determination from many places.

Joe Childs, interim superintendent for Mitchell School District

Where does one find their drive, resolve, and commitment to achieve a specific goal despite any obstacles and setbacks? Determination is a crucial aspect of education, and it plays a significant role in shaping a student’s future. Many of us wouldn’t be where we are today without our own and another person's fortitude.

It is true, and I have observed, that determination can come from many places. Years ago, while employed at one of our elementary schools, I’d annually greet our new-to-school kindergartners as they entered the doors to an event appropriately know as kindergarten roundup. Often, with surprising accuracy, I could spot those students that appeared to have been born with an abundance of grit. These kids would come through the door marching with gusto and absolute confidence; a tell-me-you’re-determined-without-telling-me-you’re-determined sort of walk. Then, without hesitation, they’d take a front row seat as if they were the host, and I were the guest. It was remarkable to witness these self-determined apprentices develop this unwavering spirit that I fervently adored. Their ability to take control of their own learning was quite extraordinary.

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Throughout my career, and particularly during this past decade, I have witnessed a great deal of resolve in many forms. Although not always as easy to spot as those kindergartners I’ve described, some of my most memorable learners, as is often true of our young scholars that are involved in activities, are seemingly driven by deep personal interests and internal drive.

In my experience, these are the ambitious leaders that grow into some of the strongest contributors to their community. Some of them will grow and take their tenacity from the wrestling mat to the real estate business or the baseball diamond to the surgery center. Others may turn their inquisitive devotion for robotics into a career in engineering, or an encounter with school’s book club may lead to a life in the classroom. Regardless, these learners are eager to do some of the heaviest lifting to reach the end goal. They’re willing to clear obstacles and repeatedly have a never-quit attitude about life.

This past week, I was reminded, multiple times, of how true this has been. Once during my visit to an elementary school, when I witnessed a former student leading their own classroom. Again, during a Chamber of Commerce event as I sat back and watched a former student lead a work group with skillful precision. None of this surprised me, however, and if you know these young men and women, it wouldn’t surprise you either.


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It gives me so much personal delight to watch our once kindergartners blossom into our current community leaders, but this is especially true of some of those students that, as you might imagine, were familiar with the principal’s office. There are always a few students that the principal spends more time with, and several of these students become the principal’s favorite.

Many of my own most rewarding experiences have come from dealing with a reluctant learner, and I enjoy nothing more than seeing these students succeed. There are a number of instances of a diffident student becoming the clearest example of what can be accomplished when you find the determination to make positive changes. Finding grit when it’d be easier to silently quit is a lesson to all of us and finding the determination to battle through setbacks and difficulties for a chance at a bright future takes willpower.

It is true that leadership comes in many forms, and those leaders find their determination from many places. Thus, it has occurred to me that maybe the answer to the question, “Where does one find their drive, resolve, and commitment to achieve a specific goal despite any obstacles and setbacks?” is simply, “All around us.” Perhaps it is the determination that we see in others that shapes our own resolve. And, if that is the case, trust me when I say that Mitchell is rich with an abundance of determined future leaders.

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