November 20th, 2014
Giving the Gift of Acknowledgement
What are children being taught in our public schools today? Often the picture is quite grim, fraught with stories of violence, crushing class size and teachers who are just going through the motions. That said, there’s so much great teaching that is happening as well. Here’s a little story to brighten your day.
My sister Deigh Requa (pronounced Dee) teaches second grade in Moncks Corner, South Carolina, a small town near the coastal city of Charleston. For over 20 years, known as “Miz Requa”, Deigh has loved, nurtured and truly educated countless seven- year-olds in reading, writing and the ways of the world.
Each Christmas, the children give each other appreciation books. Deigh begins in early November with a note in the student’s homework file, asking each parent to spend time with their child, thinking about what they like and appreciate about the other kids in their class. “Is he nice?”, the parents ask. “Is she kind? Funny? Clever?” Of course, for some kids the acknowledgments come easily and for others, it’s a little harder.
Still, my beautiful sister persists. Guiding, encouraging and, well, coaching these seven-year-olds in the skill and art of acknowledgment. She persists because she is drop-dead committed to every single child in her classroom having a book for Christmas that is filled with acknowledgement and appreciation.
In the final days before the holidays, the children read these appreciations out loud to each other. Then they take the books home as a keepsake. My sister says that her students will see her five or six years later and what they remember most is this experience. Wouldn’t you? I mean I still remember a valentine that I got in the third grade. It was from my teacher and it made me feel like the smartest and most incredible kid in the world. What a gift!
Can you imagine the incredible beauty of some 30 wiggly seven-year-olds taking the time to speak to what they appreciate about others? What an important and informative lesson in life – and what a gift that each of these children will have a foundation of self-respect upon which to build their future.
I am not a parent myself and can only imagine the challenges of parenting in today’s world. I do believe, however, that were I one of Miz Requa’s parents, I would be very grateful to her for this powerful lesson. I trust that I would also be inspired to set a good example at home by remembering to acknowledge and appreciate my children and, in fact, all the people in my life.
Acknowledgement is such an under- utilized skill in today’s go-go world. I’ve worked with any number of executives who couldn’t quite manage it. Great to know that at least in a small corner of the world, children are learning mastery of this life lesson at an early age.
I salute my beautiful sister, Deigh, and all the unsung heroes who are quietly and with immense dedication educating our children in what matters most.