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Self-awareness and character matter too

Sunday, November 8, 2015

As I was getting ready for work on Thursday, my daughter walked into my bedroom and announced that she had been awake since 5 a.m. She said “I couldn’t fall back to sleep, but that’s OK … I just had an hour of mindfulness.”  I asked her a few questions and she explained that they have been learning about mindfulness in the Lower School, helping students recognize and accept how they are feeling in the present without feeling overwhelmed or stressed. Wow!  I couldn’t help but wonder how better prepared I would have been to deal with the stresses in life like a new job, becoming a father or the death of a loved one, had I learned about mindfulness at such a young age.

Later in the day, I, along with 400 Breck upper school students, went to watch our boys’ high school soccer team in the state championship game. I watched the dedicated players work hard through regulation and into overtime. Unfortunately, they didn’t win. But even so, when the game ended, the 400 students clapped, put their arms around each other, and sang the Breck Alma Mater. As the heartbroken players slowly exited the field, the Breck fans broke into a loud chant of “We Still Love You.”  At that moment I overheard a security guard comment to another stadium employee, “What a great group of kids.”

If you ever travel to Maine, there is a sign that greets visitors on Highway 95 that states, “Welcome to Maine, the way life should be.” By the end of Thursday, I couldn’t help thinking the Breck sign on Ottawa Avenue should read, “Welcome to Breck, the way education should be.”  I am proud that our students are some of the best young academics in the country, but I am equally proud of their ability to reflect, have perspective and be empathetic. More than any school I know of, Breck develops great students who are also good people.