At last week's Pillar Assembly Ms. Ford, Mr. Grasso, and Mr. Nelson all spoke about compassion.
Ms.Ford started by sharing her appreciation and thanks to students and staff who supported the Christmas Families by organizing, providing gifts, and helping with wrapping - all acts of compassion and kindness.
Next Mr.Nelson shared a powerful story about the 7th grade TAMS B team that he coaches. His team could have won easily over an opponent, but realizing that there was a student on the opposing team who had physical limitations, his team allowed the opponent to score which led to great applause and consideration of the experiences of others.
Mr.Grasso then shared that personally, growing up he had never wanted to be a teacher, though both his mother and father spent much of their lives teaching. However, eventually, he felt inspired enough to join the profession, and like many of his colleagues had a teacher, an English teacher that also inspired him.
His name was Brian Fleury, and he passed away after a long struggle with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma (the same cancer his father had) several years ago. Mr. Fleury was a baseball coach, and inscribed under the brim of the ball caps he would frequently wear the phrase "I am third". For him, God came first, his family second, and he kept third place for himself.
Through the examples of both Mr. Nelson's team and Ms. Ford's work with the Christmas Families and gift-giving that compassion is about caring for others, and while this is admirable, it is difficult, because we are often tempted to think of ourselves as first. "I do not wish to dictate anyone's priorities, but I challenge everyone to attempt over our much-deserved vacation to find their own ways to make themselves third--and think of other people first."
He finished by quoting Horace Mann (another educational inspiration) who said that "Habit is a cable, and we knit a thread every day until at last, we cannot break it", and encouraged everyone to make being third a habit.