Sarah Stultz: What is the greatest measure of success?

Published 10:00 pm Monday, August 20, 2018

Nose for News, By Sarah Stultz

Sarah Stultz is the managing editor of the Tribune. Her column appears every Tuesday.

I had to chuckle as I saw a photo frame posted on the wall in the hallway at Halverson Elementary School Monday outside of the kindergarten classrooms. The frames were intended for parents to take photos of their children in after the kindergarten orientation that morning.

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It had a conversation bubble attached to it that said something to the affect of “Mom doesn’t need to cry for the first day of school because it is going to be a great year.”

It’s Monday afternoon now as I write this, and I haven’t shed any tears yet, but who knows what Tuesday morning might bring when I actually walk our son, Landon, to the school bus and wish him well on his way.

It’s crazy to think Landon is starting kindergarten, and it seems like just yesterday he was born — that he learned to speak and crawl and then walk and run. And, of course, anyone who has ever met him knows he doesn’t just run — he sprints.

Even though he has faced many health and developmental challenges already in his short life, I have loved seeing his little personality develop and see him blossom in many ways. I’d like to think I am his biggest advocate.

As he ventures into this next phase of his life and will see and meet many new people, it makes me think as a parent about his life leading up to this point and if I have done everything I could have to prepare him for school.

As a parent of a child with a developmental delay, it has been a challenge, but we press forward doing the best we can, thinking about new ways to approach learning. We are reminded daily to practice patience with learning things on a different timetable than we might otherwise expect.

Landon — and every other child in our community — has great potential, and I am excited to see him and others grow this year — not only academically, but socially and emotionally, too.

It reminds me of the story of “Wonder,” which started as a book and has since been made into a movie.

While it is true that academics matter — and grade point averages and sports records can make a big difference in a child’s future — I hope our children’s experiences in school help them learn to also be better human beings.

As they said in “Wonder,” “The best way to measure how much you’ve grown isn’t by inches or the number of laps you can now run around the track, or even your grade point average — though those things are important, to be sure. It’s what you’ve done with your time, how you’ve chosen to spend your days, and whom you’ve touched this year. That, to me, is the greatest measure of success.”

Whether we’re adults or children getting ready to start or go back for another school year — or grandparents or other community members watching from afar — let’s remember to be kind to those we come in contact with, to spend our time wisely and to make an effort to grow as people. We are all different, and that’s OK.

Now that the lump is growing in my throat, I better quit while I am ahead.

I’m sure the waterworks will start Tuesday morning.