The longer I stay in early childhood education, the more I appreciate Mister Rogers. He dedicated his life to helping children and everyone around him. While searching for inspiration, I found a story that not only spoke to me, but spoke to Mister Rogers as well:
“There was a story going around about the Special Olympics. For the hundred-yard dash, there were nine contestants, all of them so-called physically or mentally disabled. All nine of them assembled at the starting line and, at the sound of the gun, they took off. But one little boy didn’t get very far. He stumbled and fell and hurt his knee and began to cry. The other eight children heard the boy crying. They slowed down, turned around, and ran back to him–every one of them ran back to him. The little boy got up, and he and the rest of the runners linked their arms together and joyfully walked to the finish line.
They all finished the race at the same time. and when they did, everyone in the stadium stood up and clapped and whistled and cheered for a long, long time. And you know why? Because deep down we know that what matters in this life is more than winning for ourselves. What really matters is helping others win, too, even if it means slowing down and changing our course now and then.” – Fred Rogers
I hope this speaks to you and maybe influences your life course too. We may be teaching our students letters and numbers, colors and shapes, writing and running. However, these are just skills. What matters most is character. Our children can have all the skills in the world, but what they do with those skills concern me more.