Spurred by an idea picked up during a recent schools workshop, I decided to ask Lake Tahoe School Students what it means to be a Bobcat, the LTS mascot.
I was intrigued by the notion of checking to see what our children are learning in relation to our mission and philosophy.
So often as adults, parents and teachers, we talk about values that we think are important, but we lack many opportunities to check to see if our children are learning and listening.
For instance, when our own children were young, it was always nice to hear that they had behaved themselves when visiting the homes of friends — and even offered to help, for goodness sake.
Students in grades K-8 responded to the question, “What does it mean to be a Bobcat?”
While I expected a range of sophistication and response — and got it — I was stunned by the consistency in message, as well as the many ways in which our children seem to think about others.
The “news” generally emphasizes how poorly prepared young Americans are for life, how self-centered they are.
We know that Incline Village is special, and that our children often represent a different way of thinking.
Frankly, I strongly believe that children throughout our country and the world are frequently other-directed, given appropriate time and attention. Incline Village children are fortunate to have both.
Following are direct quotes (with some spelling editing) from Lake Tahoe School students:
“We have thinking time when we can think by ourselves.” (K)
“We’re kind and loving. We make friends. “ (2nd)
“ To be a Bobcat is integrity, have respect, and to be honest. To work hard and listen.” (3rd)
“To be a Bobcat is to be honest, kind, helpful to your teacher, to have an education, to have integrity, to have respect. To be a Bobcat is one of the greatest privileges of my life.” (4th)
“Having honest, integrity, and respect. Being a hard working citizen. Cleaning up after yourself. Caring for others. Participating in activities, even if you don’t like it. Having fun. Being determined to learn. Having an open mind. (5th)
“There are several qualities that contain the meaning of being a bobcat. The given qualities are honesty, integrity, and respect. The more hidden qualities that are just as important can be found in almost all of us. One of these qualities is ambition.
“Our school and the community that it fosters would not be the same if the ambition of the students was not present. Because of ambition we strive to do the best we can and become people that our friends, teachers, and families are proud of. Another quality is compassion; every action has a reason behind it, and I know that for many of us it is compassion.
“Compassion is something that influences everyone all the time, whether it comes from themselves or others around them. Without compassion and the desire to make others happy our complex and family like community would be non-existent.
“A true bobcat also has the priceless ability to see past the cover and understand that what really matters is what is inside these qualities are what it means to be a Bobcat and are what form a strong, capable, understanding, confident leader. “ (8th)
No adult could have said it better.
Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at www.laketahoeschool.org.