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When I recently attended the Casselberry Elementary School drive-by graduation ceremony for the 5th graders, who were moving on to middle school, I realized that education is much more than academics and training the mind. It also involves the heart.
When the parents drove by with their kids (a/k/a students), honking their horns, waving like crazy, and recording every precious moment as it was unfolding, I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. Sure, who doesn’t love a parade? But this was much more than that. I saw parents, students, and teachers with not just a few tears in their eyes – me included, and I didn’t know any of the students!
The virtual hugs just couldn’t replace the real deal when the student and teacher embraced (at a 6-foot distance) recognizing that a chapter in the students’ lives had passed.
I realized these teachers didn’t just perform a “duty” to make sure the students could count and spell, they invested their lives in them to ensure each student understood what it takes to not just survive, but thrive in life.
It was like a relay race that was unfolding before my eyes and the teachers were congratulating them on their completion of the first leg and at the same time encouraging them to the next leg of the race, middle school. Intellect is needed to grasp the subject matter, understand how the subject being studied fits in with the rest of the world. But passion is what motivates and drives us to achieve even greater results.
I’m sure not all graduation ceremonies are like this (thanks to the coronavirus) but I’m glad that I was a part of encouraging these students to take the next step on their journey in life, and to support the teachers who are serving on the front line to bring not just academics but passion to our next generation.