I had the privilege of visiting Mrs. Kessler’s 4th grade class at Patuxent Elementary School for Career Day last week. After checking in at the media center and enjoying a turkey sandwich, I was escorted to the classroom by my safety patrol hostess (who is also my goddaughter). I arrived in the classroom at the end of the previous speaker’s presentation.Sweat

The temps that day had reached the upper 80’s and the air conditioner was broken. (Warm air circulated the room with the help of two fans donated by parents.) Convinced that a crowded room full of 9 and 10 year olds would not be interested in an hour long lecture about my career as a medical school admissions specialist, I instead spent most of my time talking about my life’s work. “What’s the difference,” you ask? My life’s work is where I place my energy. It’s the mission that drives the thing that I do from 8-4 every day. That work is making STARS.

Making STARS7STARS are students who:

  • Speak Up. They learn how to communicate and they have the confidence and the courage to do so. They learn to use their voices in a variety of contexts and they start by raising their hands in class. They are not afraid to speak up even if they aren’t 100% sure of their answers. They also ask questions when they need clarification.
  • Think. STARS are critical thinkers and they think intentionally. They are not satisfied with simply completing assignments. They strive to understand concepts and how these concepts relate to other concepts and the impacts of these concepts on the world around them.
  • Active. These students participate in activities, learning teamwork and collaboration skills. They learn to live in community and they develop healthy outlets by staying engaged in recreation that challenges them and helps them to channel their energy. Athletics, hobbies, faith-based initiatives, scouting, and special interest clubs are some examples of healthy activities.
  • Read. STARS read for information and entertainment. They read for leisure and learning. They read regularly and vary their subject matter through books, comics, newspapers, magazines, posters, flyers, brochures, signs, maps, etc. STARS understand that reading comprehension is the key that unlocks doors in every career path. (The class added comics, maps, and magazines to this list.)
  • Serve. These students understand that they must always be part of something larger than themselves so that they can remain humble and grounded. They view the world as interconnected and recognize their obligation to give as they receive. So, they seek opportunities to help others in large and small ways, and they start at home.

The students in Mrs. Kessler’s class were attentive and asked 8TAo8e7qcmeaningful questions like, “Do you follow up with the students you’ve helped to see how they are doing now,” “Where are some of the places you’ve traveled to talk to students,” and “What did you want to be when you were in the 4th grade?” Despite being in an overcrowded classroom with no air (and no heat as I later learned), I think these 4th graders are well on their way to becoming STARS.