Respect - September

RESPECT: September’s Key to Success

September, 2016

Dear Mill Pond students,
As you know, Mill Pond has a “touchstone” that summarizes what we value here at Mill Pond. It was written by students a number of years ago and reflects what our school community believes is important when it comes to what we expect of ourselves and how we treat one another. The “touchstone” guides the decisions we make as adults, and hopefully guides the decisions you make as a student as well. This is what it says:

At Mill Pond, we share mutual trust and an expectation of honesty.

Here, respect and truthfulness are essential.

In our caring community, we are responsible for being kind to others

and being actively involved within our society.

Together, we harbor self-esteem, practice generosity, and express gratitude.

We assist one another.   We are responsible stewards of our natural world.

We celebrate our special qualities,

persevere through challenges,

and embrace our differences.


Each week we recite this “touchstone” and it is important to understand that the “touchstone” is not just a collection of words to memorize. Each one of these words was carefully chosen because of what it means. Together, these words communicate what we value as a community and they should guide us in our thoughts and in our actions, every day. 

The beginning of a new school year is often a good time to set goals for ourselves. No individual is perfect and no group of people can expect to be perfect all of the time. However, we can set a goal for ourselves that we will try very hard to live out the words of our “touchstone.” Take the time to talk about the meaning of the “touchstone” with your teachers, classmates, friends, and families. It will be easier to succeed with our goal if we work together to achieve it.

In order to help with this goal, each month we will focus on a monthly key value that is one of the “Keys to Success” that unlock our potential to be our ‘best selves’ and make our school community the best place for learning for every student. The “Keys to Success” will all connect with LEARNING and CARING, the concluding phrase of our “touchstone” and the most important task we have at school. 

September’s key value is Respect. You have probably heard this word used a lot in school and at home. What does it really mean to show respect for yourself and for others? Take a minute to answer these questions for yourself:

  • Do I treat others the way I would want to be treated?

Ex:  Would I want someone to try to cut the line in front of me?

  • Do I think about how my words or actions will impact other people before I say or do something?

Ex:  Would I want someone else to laugh when I give an answer in class?

  • Do I know the difference between fact and opinion and respect that other people may have an opinion that differs from mine?

Ex:  How would I feel if someone said my sneakers weren’t ‘cool’ just because they were a different brand or style than what someone else thought was the ‘best’?

  • Do I think about someone else’s feelings before I say or do something (or don’t do something)?

Ex:  How would I feel if I wasn’t sure where to sit at lunch and people ignored me when I sat at their table?

There are many more examples I could give and I’m sure all of you could also TELL me dozens of examples of what it means to show respect for ourselves and others. What is really important is that your actions and your words show you behaving in the ways that the “touchstone” says are essential. This fall it will be especially important to demonstrate respect. Why? You may have already heard a lot of talk about the presidential election that will happen in November. Students and adults will have different opinions about who they will vote for and why. It’s not always easy, but it is important to remember to show respect for people whose opinions of the candidates might be different from yours. That’s the way it works in our country: multiple people can run for president and everyone gets to vote for their choice! Then, whoever wins becomes our president and we demonstrate respect by working together to make our country even better!

So let’s make a promise to ourselves and each other that we will show respect and kindness every day, so that we can make our school even better! This includes when we are waiting for our bus in the morning, when we arrive at school before homeroom, when we are in our team classes or at specials, when we are in lunch and at recess, when we are walking in the hallways, when we are waiting for dismissal, and when we ride the bus home. It’s not always easy, but together we can do this! 

If we demonstrate respect every day, we will show that we CARE about each other and our school. This will make it easier for everyone to LEARN, because people learn best when they feel cared for. There is another essential ingredient for learning: the belief that “smart” is something you become through effective effort, through not giving up when something is difficult. Some of you may have heard of Michael Jordan, one of the best basketball players to have ever played the game. Michael Jordan has talked about how his failures are what made him successful. He once said,

“I have missed more than 9,000 shots in my career …
I have lost almost 300 games …
26 times I was trusted to take the game-winning shot … and missed …
I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life …
that’s why I succeed.”

Each one of you has it within you to be successful at school, with friendships, and in life. Be true to yourself and behave in ways that demonstrate respect for yourself and others. Don’t give up and reach out to others if you see they need a hand. If we all do this together, learning and caring will come naturally, and our school community will be the best it can be. We believe in you so make sure you believe in yourself!

On behalf of all of the adults who work with you at Mill Pond, I hope you have a wonderful day, a terrific month, and an incredible, successful, happy school year.


Ms. Suzanne Kenny
Mill Pond School