During this quarter we will spend some time learning about optimism, what it is, what it means, and how to help our students have it.

There is an ancient Chinese story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically. “May be”, the farmer replied.

The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it three other wild horses. “How wonderful”, the neighbors exclaimed. “May be” ,replied the old man.

The following day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “May be”, answered the farmer.

The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “May be”, said the farmer.

As we head into our third year of pandemic-impacted life, the story we just read, I believe, is appropriate for us. At the beginning of the year, we took some sage advice from the book Pandemic Population by Tim Elmore. In the book, the author states two important and compelling ideas: a pandemic is a terrible thing to waste, and that it is our responsibility as adults to do everything we can to help our children learn, grow, and even thrive, not in spite of the pandemic, but because of it.

With that in mind, our theme this year “It’s GROW Time” focuses on four characteristics that we want to encourage our students to develop and become: Grateful, Resilient, Optimistic, and Willing. So far we have looked at the first two–gratitude and resilience. This quarter we will be focusing on “Optimism”.

We can all anticipate that this semester we will have a number of opportunities for us to respond like the old farmer: “May be”. There will certainly be ups and downs in the months to come. During this quarter we will spend some time learning about optimism, what it is, what it means, and how to help our students have it. And if we do…maybe, just maybe, we will help our children grow no matter what we face this semester.


Karl Steinkamp is passionate about Dalat International School and training up young people. Karl was a student at Dalat and returned with a degree in education as a student teacher, high school principal, and now Head of School since 2006.
Ms. Shawna Wood is dedicated to mentoring and discipling the next generation. Shawna has a Master of Education and has been at Dalat since 2012, first as Middle School principal and now as Deputy Head of school.
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