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I have a few core educational values close to my heart.  One is to treat each child as if they were my own, and another is to teach using stories.  I'd like to combine each of these philosophies in this post to share a story on leadership lessons I learned from my own children. 

My wife and I have raised our children to value school and take it very seriously.  We have 2 children, who enjoy school and work hard at it.  We also value athletics and extra curricular activities as a way to extend learning in a social and team oriented venue.  This fall season has provided me the opportunity to learn valuable life and leadership lessons from my own children.

Samantha is a sophomore in high school and is on the field hockey team this fall.  The team has not won a game this season and has not yet scored a goal.  It's times like these that challenge a teams moral compass.  Teams with poor leadership will begin to point fingers, blame the coach, or not give their all, while teams with strong leaders use this as an opportunity to thrive.  I went to my daughter's last game and witnessed the latter.  My daughter's team lost 6-0, but the coach and players stayed positive throughout.  After the game the team left the field to meet up with their parents, except my daughter.  She went around the perimeter of the field picking up each cone and any trash that littered the field.  She was the last one to leave the field.  I gave her a big hug as she approached me and told her how proud I was of her.  I pointed out to her that what she did after the game was more important than anything she could have done during the game, and that being a leader is not a part time job, it's a full time job.  I am thankful my daughter reinforced that valuable lesson for me.

Jacob is in the 8th grade and plays football in the fall.  Last year I was fortunate enough to coach him and our team won the Super Bowl!  After the Super Bowl we had the opportunity to play in a regional championship, but Jacob's appendix burst the night before the game, forcing us to miss the game and spend a week in the hospital.  This year he was excited to get back on the field.  He captained the team for the first 2 games, until he broke his elbow and needed surgery in game 3.   Season ending injuries can devastate a player.  I was very concerned about how Jacob would handle it.  He showed his leadership by attending every practice and every game in support of his team.  He is positive and enthusiastic.  I gave him a hug after the next game and told him how proud I was of him.  I told him that you don't have to be on the field to be a leader, and he was living proof of that.  I am thankful my son reinforced that valuable lesson for me. 

The best part of being an educator is that I've witnessed 100's of these stories with my students, teachers, players, coaches and families.  I consider them all my children!  Please share your leadership stories :)  

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Comment by Dorothy Hastings on October 10, 2012 at 6:45pm

Lesson of interdependence come from  my eldest daughter Tanisha. When me and my daughter were doing, she turned to me and said, “I love you, Mommy, but I really have more fun putting these pieces together by myself.” How many times has our enthusiasm for a project had us interested an engaged when our presence actually hinders the individual or team’s success. 

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