Dr. Jauch's 8th Grade Graduation Speech

Dr. Jauch's 8th Grade Graduation Speech
Posted on 06/13/2019
Dr. Jauch's 8th grade Graduation Speech for 2019A few parents and students have asked for a copy of my address to the class of 2019 from their 8th grade graduation, so I have posted it here. I wish these students much success and am confident that they will do well!

Before I get into the body of my speech, I would like to put it in context. Avoca is a very small district, where students receive a lot of individual attention and protections. Now don’t get me wrong, we’ve pushed you academically, we’ve challenged you, but we’ve also tried to help you persevere and let you know that you are loved and cared for along the way.

But sometimes it feels like our students live in a bubble. As a matter of fact we have heard from our alumni that we have a reputation for being a bit naive and innocent in comparison to our peers at New Trier High School. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just a thing. It is what it is.

My speech today is about dealing with new people, and being patient, and trying to put things into perspective. So right now I am trying to build a context for you for a speech about “context.”

This is my 8th year as Superintendent, and every class that I have seen cross the stage for their 8th grade graduation has also been a class that at some point had me as their elementary school principal, and the same is true for this class, as well. As a matter of fact, this is the last class of kids to ever have me as their principal.

But that statement comes with a bit of a caveat this year. You see your kindergarten class was one of the smallest in my history in this district. There were only 47 students, and of those 47, only 40 of you are still here sitting on the stage tonight.

Now although your class started out small, it has grown to over 80 strong, and though I would like to keep thinking about you as the last group of kids who had me as your Principal, that really isn’t completely accurate. But nonetheless, to those who were my last class as a school Principal, I appreciate the fact that we are both moving on from Avoca together.

Now the idea of “moving on” comes with two very different perspectives. Some look at it as the end of one experience; and for others it is the beginning of the next. Both are opposites, and yet both are equally correct. That’s the neat thing about perspectives.

You see everything that happens in this world, happens within a greater context, meaning that there is always more than meets your eye. There are always more facts. There are always more influences. There are always different histories that people bring with them to a situation.

Mrs. Stotz has a sign hanging up in her library that says, “No two persons ever read the same book.” It is because of what the reader themselves brings to the story. I told her that I also do not think the same reader can read the same story twice, because now that I’ve read that story once, I’m not the same. I have a different understanding of what’s going on, and I have a new perspective. The context has changed.

You should know that for almost any situation, the greater context is not something any of us can fully grasp. It’s too big; it’s too complex, and that’s OK. You see everybody brings their own experiences, their own information and their own understanding of the facts that make up a given situation.

So before you go and make an assumption about something, about what actually happened or why it happened or what motivated a person to act the way that they did, know that your assumption is based on incomplete evidence.

I am a big believer that knowledge is power, and that data and facts should drive your decision making, but not just book knowledge or number knowledge, contextual knowledge, as well.

It will be impossible for you to move on to high school without bringing the experiences you’ve had here with you, but don’t forget that others have not had the Avoca experience, and even those who have had different experiences than you. Remember, more than half of the kids here did not have Mrs. Kelly, or Mrs. Moran or Mrs. Rosic for kindergarten.

So when you are faced with situations where you have an altercation or disagreement with someone recognize that you may just be coming at it from a different perspective. Take a moment to step back and try to learn about that other person’s perspective, and always assume the other person has a positive intent.

Now you may still disagree from a philosophical perspective, and that’s fine. You don’t need to roll over and play dead just to keep the peace, but don’t just write off that other person by assuming that you know what they brought to the situation. Talk to them. Learn about them. Learn from them.

Too much these days we seem to be living in a “this” or “that” world. It’s either “my way or the highway.” And that stalls progress.

There is an art to compromising. There is a skill to being able to find win-win solutions to problems. Work together to make the change you want to see. If you can do that, you will go far.

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know. I don’t completely buy that. But what I do read into that statement is that how other people see us is a key contributor to our success.

So be patient with others. Make people feel valued when they are in your presence. One way you can do that is by trying to understand their perspective.

Remember, every team you will ever be on will have you as a teammate. So do your best. Be your best. Always maintain your integrity, and appreciate that the perspectives of others and what they bring to the greater context makes the whole team stronger.

So as you move on, move on confidently, move on patiently, and move on curiously. Be the person who solves the problem by working with others, by understanding the bigger picture.

Good luck to you, the class of 2019, as you move on!