By Ronnie Finley
This quote was on the outside of Winthrop Elementary School and it really stuck to my heart. It has helped me to distinguish the difference between character and reputation and it has taught me that shaping character is more valuable.
The lesson from this elementary school mural is applicable to both my inner-self and how I navigate the external world. I need to stay true to myself – to my character – by doing what I do for the right reasons.
We should all take a step back and look into why we do what we do. Help others out of genuineness, not out of obligation. Be open to growth and learn as you go. Don’t go into service feeling as if you’re there to save people. You’re not. You’re there to stand in solidarity with the people in your community, to participate, and to help those around you feel heard. Be an active citizen, not because you feel like you should, but because you want to live compassionately. Because you care.
The children at Winthrop see this quote everyday. When I volunteer to help with art projects, I use John Wooden’s words to anchor myself and the conversations I have with students. It’s never too early to learn the difference between character and reputation.
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