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  • Reverend James Squire

Why Students Succeed and the Stock Market




Recently, Vicki and I attended several different events that were celebrating the lives of some of my former students. I indicated to Vicki that these were my people, students and parents that were enmeshed in my own life.


The students had all become very successful, but on graduation night I don’t think that all members of the EA community would have put their money on the significant way that these students would turn out.


It dawned on me when I was in bed thinking about the day that there was an important piece of insight in the day. It is based on that often-used phrase by me that “you can’t be what you can’t see.”


How you see the students while you are teaching them has a lot to do with how they develop to go on to do wonderful things. There is the classic study done at Stanford regarding self-fulfilling prophecy. In essence, a teacher was told that the group she was teaching were students who were not very bright or engaging. They really well the best of the best students, but they functioned at a lower-level based on the teacher’s attitude. There was another group where the teacher was told to have high academic expectations because her students were high achievers. In reality, they were students who struggled. They performed at a high level as they engaged the material thanks to a teacher who saw them that way.


Sometimes you can’t be what you can’t see doesn’t only refer to how the student sees himself in the future, but how the teacher sees him or her in the future that makes all the difference.


I had many interesting classes where the group of students had a reputation for being rambunctious. One faculty called me to the door, looked into the room and asked, “If I was being paid extra to teach them.” Other classes had faculty coming to the door to tell me that “I needed a whip and a chair to teach a group.” But I never needed any of their counsel.


I had a student in one class who was not regarded as a top tier student. He also was known as a school spirit leader. He was high energy and is now a strength and conditioning coach at a school. I took his ethics class to a bioethics symposium that was being broadcast nationally. After the symposium students from each school were being interviewed about the symposium so they asked me who would represent EA for this Q and A. This student I mentioned above was standing next to me, and I said, “This guy will represent us!” He protested mightily. He told me he wasn’t smart enough. I told him that “he would do a great job.” He reluctantly agreed and then gave a marvelous interview.


The next day part of his interview was mentioned on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News. When we all entered the classroom which was a full house of students, a member of the class mentioned that this student’s interview was on the front page of the newspaper that he had brought to class. Neither the student interviewed or I knew that. The student who did the interview jumped up and asked, “Hey Rev, can I call my mother!” I said, “Yes!” He pulled out his cell phone and asked her to get as many copies of the paper as she could. The class lit up and applauded him, and then we got down to the academic business of ethics. I don’t think that what we were studying that day was as important as what occurred with this student and a class that applauded him for his being mentioned in the press. You can’t replicate that level of affirmation. You can replicate a class.


One of the gatherings that we attended was a graduation party for the siblings of a former student who died tragically in a car accident. I told Vicki that I still have trouble going down the road where the accident occurred. He was one of the top rowers in the nation. He came to my ethics class with a reputation of “being hard to handle.” He became a class leader and an inspiration to students, I believe, simply because he found a place for his questioning mind about many ethical systems and controversial topics. After the first class, he came to me and suggested that he may have stepped out of line. I told him that I would let him know if he did, but I would never do it in front of the class. Even today I wonder what he would have become if that accident had not occurred. He was an inspiration to others and he still is today.


I also noticed, during this day of celebrations, the level of social emotional intelligence that these students had. Among the first students I encountered, after embraces and conversation, it was time for me and Vicki to enter the party. They didn’t say, “We’ll see you in there!” They said, “Let’s go in together.” Later my students asked us if we needed anything, water or a drink. Another said, “Rev, we have to have a longer conversation. It has been too long.” Another student said that he learned an important lesson. He thought of a former coach who he wanted to contact, but he didn’t get around to talking to him before the coach died. He learned he would never wait to contact someone the next time he thought of a person with whom he needed to make a connection. These former students were always polite around me, but they had reached a new level of kindness and maturity.


During my retirement I have written a couple of books and am still connecting with former students who need help, but I have also been learning about things that I didn’t understand like how the stock market works. What I have learned is that I didn’t even know what I didn’t know except for one thing. The stock market doesn’t focus only on today. It focuses on the future possibilities.


So, if life imitates art, shouldn’t we consider that life imitates the stock market? Namely, that we should honor the present, but be forward looking at the same time for ourselves, but not only ourselves but also people entrusted to our care.


I know that parents were proud of their kids during these recent celebrations, but I know that my pride in their kids would be a close second because I knew them back when they were becoming who they are today.

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