Herald Journal Columns
Jan. 31, 2005, Herald Journal

Respect is best taught by example


As I watched some of the presidential inauguration, talk is of hope; hope for a brighter future, which is what we all want. We want a brighter future for our children, who are our future. Hope is something we always want to hang on to.

As President Bush was taking his oath of office, it brought back recent memories of when I sat behind President Bush on a platform with many other Eden Prairie teachers listening to his speech about education.

When the President’s speech was over, he turned around and came over to us to shake hands and give words of appreciation to us for being teachers.

I shook the President’s hand.

I will never forget that. It was an incredible experience to hear the most powerful person in the country speak 15 feet in front of me and to be able to meet the President of the United States face-to-face and shake his hand.

President Bush came to Minnesota to support the election for which Norm Coleman was running for a senate seat. The President had other speaking engagements dealing with Coleman’s candidacy, but during his time in Minnesota, he came to Eden Prairie High School, where I taught, to speak about education.

The week prior to his visit, was filled with a whirlwind of excitement and preparation for the district. A few teachers were also chosen to meet with the President in a small group. Our large, new multi-purpose area (composed of a few gyms and an upper level walking track) was transformed into a staging area for the President, guests, and invited public. As teachers, we were able to invite one person to attend the extravaganza. My husband, Marc, attended the event also, but he sat much farther back and watched most of the event from a screen.

On the day of the President’s speech, security was increased by a multitude. There were security personnel all over the school, and a murmur of talk in anticipation of the President.

It was an unforgettable experience, waiting in anticipation for the President to walk through the doors, to take his place on the stage right before us.

Yes, I have pictures of the President and a video tape of the event, which I have shared with my children. And when I see President Bush on television, especially in events, such as the inauguration, I say to myself, “I met the President of the United States and shook his hand.”

Whatever political party you may be affiliated with or candidate you voted for, he is still the President of the United States of America, and I have sheer respect for him and that position.

I think anyone who has been President or who has run for the presidency is a good person. We may not all agree with the ideas that a particular president or candidate has, but I believe they truly want what’s best for the country. Simply said, but I believe it to be the truth, and it is a position we should have great respect for. We should teach our children that respect, as well.

It is important to teach our children about respect, not only for the president, but for all people. How do we teach our children about respect?

We, as adults, must role model respect for others in our words and actions. Children are constant “see-ers” of what we do, and what we do and how we act will have a far greater impact on them than any other teaching tool.

As I mentioned in a previous article, I listened to my dad out of sheer respect for him, and as I look back at “my growing up days”, I don’t think I remember my dad “bad mouthing” anyone. I am sure there were people that were not his favorite people, but he didn’t talk badly about them in front of us.

As a farmer, I knew what political party he affiliated with most, and I remember him speaking very highly of some presidents he had great respect for, but I don’t remember him speaking badly of any president, whether he voted for him or not.

My dad didn’t speak with us a lot about the issue of respecting others, but he showed it, in how he treated others in his words and actions. He was a kind man, and always willing to lend a hand to others.

My uncle once said that you should respect others merely because they are fellow human beings. If you meet someone on the street or in the post office that you don’t know, you show respect to them because they are a fellow human being.

Sometimes, for example, we hear that a teacher has to earn the respect of his/her students, but how the teacher has already earned respect on the premise that he/she is a person and a teacher. That doesn’t mean a teacher shouldn’t show respect for her students – in fact, it’s vitally important that she does, for teachers are role models for our children, too.

We are constant role models for our children, and the best way to teach respect to our children is to show respect to others, ourselves. We may not always agree with others, but there’s a difference between disagreeing and showing disrespect or “bad mouthing” someone.

Winter activity

To make crystal balls, use bubble solution (or one part dishwashing liquid to 10 parts water), glycerin and sugar, and bubble blowers, wire shaped into a circle, or try a straw with four 1-centimeter slits at the end.

On a cold day with light wind, form a bubble, but do not let it escape. As the bubble freezes, watch the formation of ice crystals. If you leave it long enough, it will from a crystal ball. This activity idea is from the website www.mb.ec.gc.ca