This afternoon I drove over to school to pick up the grand-kids. The parking lot was crowded with cars, trucks, and several after-school daycare buses, all there for the same reason – to pick up kids. I got out of the car and walked over to the front porch of the school and waited for the grand-kids to pop out the front door.
As kids came outside and got into their cars, one line of cars started to move slowly toward the exit. The other lane, however, was at a dead standstill. That was when I realized that a large van was stalled, and unable to move out of the way of the cars behind it. One of the teachers who was in the parking lot calmly asked another guy to help him with the van. Then a parent inside another car hopped out to help too. Inside a minute, the three men had pushed the van across the parking lot and into an empty slot. There was a pick-up truck parked in the next slot, and the owner whipped out some jumper cables to try starting the engine.
Most people probably didn’t even notice that there had been a problem. It was handled quickly, efficiently, and with compassion. This is actually the second time I have seen this situation at our school. In each case, no one honked impatiently, got angry, yelled, revved their engine, or even frowned. Instead, people immediately hurried to help the driver in trouble. Both times I marveled at the camaraderie and good humor of people working together with kindness.
Before our grand-kids started going to this school, the older grandchild went to the assigned neighborhood school. It was generally a harrowing experience to pick her up from school. Drivers were rude, pushy, and would yell curses at you if you were in their way. If the car ahead of them wasn’t buckling kids into their car-seats fast enough, they would lay on the horn. On one occasion, a furious female driver honked for five minutes straight trying to get the cars ahead of her to move (they couldn’t move either), while teachers on the front lawn standing with their students pretended not to notice.
Why are these two schools so different? There are a lot of factors that set the tone for each school, but I really believe there is something that our current school does exceptionally well: they teach virtues. Each month the entire school, from the principal to the teachers to the students to the support staff, focus on a particular virtue. When we got home from school, I asked my granddaughter what the virtue of the month was. Without even having to think, she said, “Compassion!”
Wow – compassion. Being sympathetic to the hardships and bad luck that people around you are experiencing, and caring enough to help. Extending a kindness that gets them through the situation. That’s what I saw today – compassion. Our school may not be perfect, but I give them an A+ for making virtues a priority!