Superintendent's Message

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Jay Brewer

Respond or React?

One of my recent readings has been the Book of Joy by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu and I have found it to be a book that has quickly moved into my Top 5!  Within the book are many deep discussions by these two spiritual leaders and Nobel Prize winners on the topic of joy.   These two have great conversations on what they describe as the eight pillars of joy, with four being for the mind and four being for the heart.  The four for the mind are perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance.  The four for the heart are forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity. 


One particular conversation in the book turns to the idea of respond versus react.  I personally have been working towards responding more to life’s events versus reacting to them.  We find that humans are the rare species that have the quality of being able to respond to what is presented to us versus reacting to it.  I find when we lose our temper, our patience, we also lose our joy.


When we react instead of respond we lose an important aspect of modeling how we should deal with life to our children.  When our children see us “lose it” they begin to see this as an appropriate response to life’s challenges.  We know that children want to grow up to be adults.  And we need to think deeply about the concept of what is their perception of an adult when they live in a world in which they only see adults reacting to life’s challenges by yelling, cussing, bullying, and melting down. 


To stop the cycle of reacting to life, we adults must do better at modeling responding instead of reacting.  For this cycle to stop, we adults must STOP REACTING to life.  We need to slow, down…pause…count to ten.  And then and only then…RESPOND.  Our kids deserve this.


Respectfully submitted,

Jay Brewer, Proudly Serving as Superintendent of Dayton Independent Schools




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