Emphasizing Empathy

Skimming through the most recent issue of HW Life, one article in particular caught our eye. We learned that last spring, middle school faculty were given the opportunity to shadow students for a day—an exercise designed to promote a greater understanding of the range of perspectives in our community. The article included teacher reflections detailing their shock at the rigor and pressure students face daily, which in turn led to reconsideration of teaching strategy and classroom policies.

Though an unconventional experiment, its results emphasize the importance of having empathy guide our actions and relationships. While a common refrain, the new year and the new semester present an opportunity to reevaluate how we judge and respect ourselves and others.

We can begin by expressing this empathy toward our peers, those whom we are able to relate to the most. In late December, many seniors received news on Early Action and Decision applications. While some were elated, others were disappointed. Either way, we should continue to support both those who were accepted and those who are still waiting to hear their decisions. Admitted students have worked hard to achieve this milestone and deserve to celebrate their accomplishments.

However, this excitement must be met with mindfulness toward equally hard-working students who didn’t receive the news they had hoped for. This is just one example of where we can put empathetic ideals into practice; whether college-related or more general, we all face challenges during our time in high school, and going the extra mile to be compassionate never goes unappreciated.

Just as some teachers from the Middle School made an effort to understand their students’ struggles, we should do the same with ours. It’s easy to forget that teachers devote their lives to enriching our own. They are not required to stay in their offices beyond the school day, but most are more than willing to. Mr. Kochar and Mr. Nealis arrive at school before most of us are even awake and open their doors to anyone willing to wake up as early as they do. Ms. Medawar writes personal letters of encouragement to her students for the holidays. Other teachers sacrifice their personal lives and time with their families to respond to panicked, late-night emails.

Few people in our lives care as deeply about us as our teachers do, and we should remember to reciprocate this by recognizing and appreciating their efforts. Seniors, although passing into second semester is an easy excuse to give up on our schoolwork, slacking off is disrespectful and inconsiderate to our teachers, who work hard to prepare meaningful lessons without an end-goal other than seeing us succeed.

Remembering compassion should extend beyond the walls of our campus. It is imperative that we show appreciation for everyone who touches our lives, be it in the line at the grocery store or across the dinner table. Too often, we take out pent-up frustration on our parents or other authority figures, but we should remember the sacrifices they continue to make to support us.

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