the Superintendent’s Seat:
Teaching Our Children to Give Back
Dr. Carole G. Hankin with Randi T. Sachs
children study a great many subjects in school. Some of the lessons
they learn will last a lifetime; in other lessons facts may be
forgotten, but they serve to expand the childrens’ capacity for
thinking and making decisions.
A fairly new phrase in education that is used more frequently
now is “character education.” Recognizing that what is traditionally
taught in the home must be reinforced in school, we have put character
education into the curriculum alongside math and social studies.
Character education addresses such behavioral issues as good sportsmanship,
kindness, generosity, helping others, honesty, integrity, safety,
fairness, and more. It is important that we talk to our students
about why we place such a high value on these attributes. We also
can lead by example and help our students put these values into
action–especially when it comes to helping others.
As a nation, we have made ourselves proud in the manner in which
we have collectively sought to be of help and comfort to those
who were directly affected by the tragedy of September 11, 2001.
Many schools held fund raising drives, collected goods, and wrote
letters of encouragement and thanks to our heroes and the victims
and their families.
In our District, I am proud to say that our students have always
had a great sense of community spirit and have organized many
different events and drives to help others. It is not a requirement
for graduation, but community service is part of every student’s
experience in Syosset.
Beginning in kindergarten and first grade our students experience
the rewards of giving by inviting senior citizens from the community
to join them for a Thanksgiving celebration or by visiting a nursing
home during the December holidays and singing for the residents.
Just this week, middle school students in Syosset started the
morning with laps around the track constituting a walkathon to
benefit cancer research. Together with faculty, staff, and also
many parents, siblings, and a few pets, they made a concerted
effort to raise funds and awareness. These are just a few examples,
the list of things our students do to help others in both our
local and our greater community is much too long to fit in this
There is no doubt in my mind that the lessons our students learn
from being involved in these acts of kindness and generosity are
every bit as important as their academic subjects. And there is
another, equally valuable lesson they learn–that they can make
a difference. Our students are learning that their contribution
makes a difference, and that by working together they can overcome
difficult obstacles. These are all lessons we hope will last a
lifetime, and that we as parents can help to teach our children
by modeling these actions.#
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