The title, “Why it’s Imperative We All Learn to Become ‘Emotion Scientists’” caught my attention this weekend and has such strong connections to the work we do every day and the work of the Vision of a Graduate. “When we consult with corporations, they tell us they’re searching for employees who persevere with a task, who take personal responsibility for their work, who can get along with others and function as members of a team. Not technical abilities or specialized knowledge— they’re looking ﬁrst for emotional attributes. A colleague from the RAND Corporation told me that technology advances so rapidly today that companies don’t hire workers for their current skills— ﬁrms are looking for people who are ﬂexible, who can present new ideas, inspire cooperation in groups, manage and lead teams, and so on. We may acquire some of those skills by osmosis—by watching and emulating others who possess them. But for the most part they must be taught. And they are best learned in communities. Emotion skills are both personal and mutual. They can be used privately, but their best application is throughout a community, so that a network emerges to reinforce its own inﬂuence. I have seen this happen— these skills are being deployed in thousands of schools all over the world, with dramatic results.”
This week’s Student Feature Friday is junior Riley Robinson whose positivity and joy for life is evident the moment your start speaking with her. Her participation in Best Buddies, Beautiful Minds Campaign, Culture Club and the Wellness Council are all connected by her compassion, kind heart and genuine desire to help others. She recently traveled to Kenya with her family to help build soccer fields and bring medical supplies to those in need. Her trip to Kenya brought together her love of travel, having visited several countries throughout the world, with her strong desire to make the world a better place.
Riley is passionate about Wellness, nutrition and the mind-body connection. She is an active participant in the Wellness Council and is working hard to share her knowledge with others. Knowing how difficult it is to make consistent and sustained changes towards healthy living, she has found great support and comfort in her crossfit community. Future plans for her include becoming a dietitian and helping others change their lives for the better through wellness and kindness.
Q: How have you been able to expand on your interests in nutrition through the Wellness Council and your participation in crossfit?
A: August 21, 2016 marked the start of my health transformation. After countless years of being bullied for my appearance, stressing over the number I read on the scale, and getting nervous every time I walked into a room filled with people: scared of what they really thought about me, I was finally ready to make a change for myself and no one else. I was more than ready to embark on a journey, that without knowing would change my life forever. My mind was filled with emotions. I was nervous of the unknown but thrilled for what was to come. I knew that with the right motivation I could overcome any challenge. I began with approving of myself just the way I was. Then, I found my why and determined my goals. I joined a health program, attended Crossfit Firewall on a regular basis, created healthy recipes in the kitchen, began meditating, seeked out a supportive community, and finally began to expect progress and not perfection. By putting in the work, I knew that I was setting myself up for making long lasting change. Now here I am, three years later, still riding this crazy rollercoaster. For this journey: I am forever grateful. I have been taught things I’d never thought could change my habits and thinking. I have learned the importance of mindfulness, adequate amounts of sleep, and the education one should learn about their own body. In the process, I have discovered my passion for nutrition and dietetics. I have never felt so good in my own skin: confidence is finally within me. I am dedicated to learn as much as possible about the importance of wellness and self-love. My hope is to turn my passion for health and wellness, as well as my desire to help others feel confident and beautiful, into my focus for college and hopefully my future career. Not only have I altered my life, mindset, and health completely; but I have been able to spread my knowledge among the walls of my high school by being apart of the wellness council.
As a student representative of the wellness council, I am steadfast in our mission, working to communicate effectively, and exhibit boundless energy and passion towards our cause. I strive to support wellness in my school community by promoting nutrition, physical activity, and social-emotional health. I recently have been working on posting up easy and nutritious recipes around the school, as well as implementing a mindfulness and movement activity during our directed study block to enable students to take a breath and relax before the rest of their classes. The wellness council has not only broadened my love for nutrition but has opened me up to new experiences and a supportive community in Holliston.
Similarly, Crossfit Firewall has not only made me feel more confident and fit but has even enhanced my passion for my future career even more. It has also given me a truly supportive and determined community. I feel strong, I feel empowered, and I feel like I can take on anything. The people that I have met through Firewall are all incredible and supportive, the community is just one of the many things that keeps me coming back day after day. These groups have ultimately changed my life for the good and I could not be more blessed.
Q: Tell me more about Lovelane, how you became involved in the organization and why it has been so rewarding for you.
A: Lovelane is a therapeutic horseback riding program that has a dramatic impact on the physical and cognitive development of children with special needs. My mom introduced me to this wonderful organization back in June and overtime, I have come to know so many wonderful and genuine people that put smiles on my face every time I see them. Saying that Lovelane has been a gratifying experience is such an understatement. Volunteering there has been an absolute dream – not only because I love horses and the students we help strive beyond their disabilities, but because it is the perfect opportunity for me to give back to those that deserve it. The students at Lovelane truly give me purpose. The joy and happiness on their faces as they ride and learn, resonates with me. One can’t quickly forget the overwhelming feelings of excitement and accomplishment they feel when students who have trouble walking into a ring, sit up, ride a horse and take control. The pride and emotion is immense. This experience has taught me that helping others can be just as rewarding for the individuals performing the services as those receiving it. Its mind blowing how gratifying creating positive change can be.
Q: Through your participation in the new Service Learning course you have chosen to create the do-good club. How do you envision this club promoting inclusion and positivity?
A: Ever since I can remember, I have had an absolute love for spreading kindness and making a difference in my community. There is something so special and heartwarming about helping others. And it is so simple: giving a used soccer ball to a child that has been playing with rolled up socks; helping an eldery gentleman pick up his newspaper from the end of his driveway; providing a thanksgiving meal to a family with none. It’s the simplicity of a kind act that gives me a greater sense of purpose. Volunteering my time, money, and energy to help others doesn’t just make the world better, it also makes me happier. This past summer, I volunteered at the local senior center where I was able to listen to life stories, participate in numerous activities, and grow closer to the elders in my community. My love for helping others has even taken me across the globe to Africa where I was able to educate as well as bring both medical and sport supplies to those in need. These valuable and life changing experiences are helping me become a better person. Not only has volunteering reduced my stress but has continued to provide me with an opportunity to give back. Being kind to others is the most powerful tool to success. And perhaps the most important benefit of service is the chance of that person paying it forward. Your one act of kindness could have a major ripple effect.
With the creation of the Do-Good Club, I am able to prove to others how powerful the act of human kindness and compassion truly is. The club’s mission is to not only spread positivity but also awareness of inclusion and the importance of being an active community member inside and outside the walls of Holliston High School. Every month, participants raise awareness, fundraise, and engage in volunteer work based on a certain community need. Our next meeting gives us the opportunity to create smiles across many young faces. We are putting together goodie bags that will be donated to the students of the Lovelane organization to simply brighten their day.
Q: You clearly have several passions and have been able to pursue them simultaneously. What advice do you have for other students who haven’t found their passion/interests yet?
A: Knowing your passion in life gives you something to build a strong foundation from. Passion helps you live your life with integrity and purpose. That passion helps you discover your “why” and helps determine your goals. Explore new things, listen to what others appreciate about you, and find and build community. Once you have identified your passion, spend some time working to develop it. Set specific goals and find accountability. Whatever your passion is, follow it. In life you are meant to do what brings you joy, and your gifts and talents are meant to be your contribution to the world. Stop hiding them away. Now is the time, bring them out! I do and it brings me happiness everyday.
As we all continue in our quest to move the Vision of a Graduate forward with faculty projects throughout the year, the following article caught my attention on Interdisciplinary projects. It is a quick read discussing both creative projects and creative scheduling. “This year we are taking on the challenge to push the envelope again. At our core, projects are the driver of our work, so we decided to walk the talk and ask the driving question, “What does it look like when our students solve projects that matter that integrate all subject areas?” Our 9th grade team is now integrating seven subjects into one project.” Scheduling an Interdisciplinary Project
As I was looking through a few articles over the weekend, I came across “Concrete Ways to Help Students Self-Regulate and Prioritize Work.” Although the two short videos highlight elementary and middle school students, the work still pertains to high school students. Many of the discussions from Friday focused on teaching life skills that will outlive students’ four years at HHS. How are we explicitly teaching these skills? How are these skills being worked into lesson plans across all subjects? One quote from the article/video jumped out at me: “Mark Twain said if you wake up every morning and eat a frog, everything else will taste great,” said eighth grade teacher Catherine Paul. “So, I taught them to take their frog from the list, which is the thing they want to do the least, and get it out of the way, because everything else will seem easy.” How are we helping students navigate and prioritize their days in ways that are meaningful and manageable?