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You Are Golden!

Posted by on in Social Emotional Learning
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I always say that you can find inspiration anywhere in this world, provided your ears, eyes, and heart are open. I had my brain sparked today while at church with my family. We go to church fairly regularly, even though I do not consider myself a Christian, as I identify most with the tenants of Buddhism. I could tune out what the Pastor says during the sermon, but I always make a concerted attempt at maintaining openness. This is a good thing because today he delivered absolute gold!

Today our Pastor talked about Kintsukuroi, the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer mixed or dusted with gold, silver, or platinum. The major philosophy of this practice is the breakage and subsequent repair are part of the history of the object instead of something to disguise (more info here). Typically when we repair an object, we want to hide the initial damage to make it look "good as new". Kintsukuroi places the emphasis on embracing and celebrating the damage because it is part of what makes the object unique and special. Go ahead and think about that for a second before reading any more!

So you've thought about this practice. Now I want you to think about how this practice can work if we apply it to ourselves, our students, and our schools. Is this how you approach your breaks and damage? Do our schools and students see it like this? Of course not! Society doesn't want us to focus on our previous cracks. We want to get past those issues as soon as we can and forget about them. Those are weaknesses and the quicker we forget about them, the better, right? WRONG!

Let's look at this from two different perspectives, the physical and emotional side of us.

From an aesthetic approach, we do everything we can to cover up the cracks that appear in us over time. Think about make-up, plastic surgery, beautification treatments, and everything else that we do to hide our breaks from the outside world. We don't want people to see these scars. We don't want people to see or think that there is anything wrong with us. We want to look as "normal" as we can. We will go to sometimes inane heights to make this a reality. Kintsukuroi uses gold lacquer to repair breaks because the mishaps should stand out and be celebrated. These fractures are what make the item unique. Every crack involves a rich story. Are you willing to share your stories or are you trying to hide them?

From an emotional perspective, we are deathly afraid to talk about the issues that we experience in the depths of our soul. From a young age, we become programmed. It becomes engrained in us that crying is a sign of weakness, especially for boys. We learn that sharing our feelings and showing vulnerability is a flaw that should be avoided at all costs. So what we do when we break on the inside? Most of us deal with it in real-time however we can, but we typically address the symptoms and not the problems. We may indulge in mood-altering substances, have an intense workout, yell, scream, curse, fight, punch things, cry in isolation, or some other method. When we finish with the remedy, we bury the problem inside for it to fester without treatment. This lack of attention to our internal struggles that focuses on hiding these breaks instead of embracing them is dangerous.

Last week, I published a post about getting real (read it here) because I was tired of hiding myself and my struggles. I have cracks and breaks, both physically and emotionally. They are what has made me who I am today. I used to want them kept a secret because I didn't want to seem weak. I have learned that hiding them makes me weak. I am not weak. I am not a victim. I am strong. I am a survivor. I will put my breaks and cracks on display. I am fixing these problems with gold lacquer because I acknowledge that they are a rich part of my story that must be displayed and not hidden.

I have to close this by challenging every one of you reading this piece. Take a deep look at yourself, both inside and outside. How do you display your breaks? Do you prefer to hide them from others or do you celebrate them? Are they scars or badges of courage and honor? How do you model this for your students, your own children, or any others that you interact with regularly? I want my mistakes and cracks to serve as learning tools for myself and others. This is why I repair myself with bright, precious lacquer when I break. Believe me, it happens much more than I would like to admit. We are all gold, regardless of how many breaks and cracks we have endured in our lifetimes. Shine with pride for the whole world to see!

Your power and strength are heightened by embracing and sharing your weaknesses!

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Born and raised in Cumberland County, New Jersey, Sean not only has remained, but has continued to grow with his community. He now resides in the same county with his wife and their two young sons. Sean currently serves as an administrator at Camden’s Promise Charter School, where he focuses on the professional development of teachers and building various social-emotional skills with students. Graduating from Rutgers University with an undergraduate degree in Communication as well as a graduate degree from the University of Scranton in Educational Administration helped open the doors to what has now become nearly a decade long career in education.


 


 


 


As a result of connecting with people everyday of all ages, ethnicities, cultures and beliefs, Sean has learned how to listen and meet the individualized needs of different groups of people. In order to help organize parents and educators to come together in academic spaces, it has required him to search for innovative, functional, and inclusive ways to solve problems.


 


 


 


Despite Sean's childhood aspirations of one day becoming an attorney, he has since become an unwavering advocate for positive youth development and education. Growing up, Sean experienced difficulty financially and emotionally in an unstable household while also battling a sometimes crippling learning disability (ADHD). School became both a place of refuge and a source of trouble for Sean. If not for certain teachers and school faculty encouraging him as a young person, he would not have pursued higher education and would not have been able to impact countless students the way he does today.


 


 


 


Throughout his career as an educator in New Jersey, Sean has based every decision solely on what is best for youth and their futures. He has worked to create new, effective programs as well as supports for students and parents addressing social issues. Sean has demonstrated his student-first approach by never being afraid to privately and publicly question decisions that impact teachers, students, and the educational process. As a result, he has been able to create strong, lasting relationships across our state with the students, families, and communities that he has served.


 


 


 


As a leader in education, Sean has rooted his success in incorporating three major values that he applies to every facet of his life: honesty, integrity, and transparency. All great leaders exhibit honesty regardless of how difficult a situation may be. In these times, we need someone who will honor the trust of their constituents, despite possible backlash. Sean has displayed his commitment to integrity by maintaining a strong moral basis in all decisions, never being swayed by personal gain, and combating corruption wherever it exists. Transparency is also something that is not frequently witnessed in politics. Without it, it is easy for elected officials to lose touch with the people they serve. Having worked in education, Sean understands the power of collective responsibility while encouraging collaboration and the inclusion of diverse opinions to impact change. His unique background matched with his life experiences have allowed him to truly understand the struggles and needs of so many American people.


 


 


 


As the next United States Congressman from the state of New Jersey, Sean promises to apply the most effective policies to positively influence the collective growth of all New Jerseyans and Americans. He intends to only put the best interests of his constituents, state, and country first, regardless of how unpopular that may make him within the political machine. This is how we give politics, power, and our country back to the people. This is how we place our future first.

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Guest Saturday, 18 November 2017