From September 18 th to the 20 th , IICS was pleased to host Lynn Kachmarik, an expert in character building, leadership, school athletics and coaching. Lynn has worked extensively with students in the USA and around the world, and frequently presents to teachers and coaches at educational conferences. IICS students from Grades 5-11 had the opportunity to work with Lynn for a session, as did most of our Athletics and Activities teams.

During her time here, Lynn ran several different sessions depending on the audience. With the Grade 5 and 6 students, the focus was on bullying and resilience; with the Grade 7 and 8 students, she helped them understand all of the wonderful opportunities in life that they sacrifice by trying to be cool all of the time; and with the High School students, the objectives was to emphasize the importance of the personal and moral characteristics that result in resilience and success both academically and in their athletics and activities.

Grades 5 and 6: Setting you up for success on and off the playing field 

In the beginning of this workshop, “being cool” was first defined as knowing better than others and looking nice. At the end of the workshop, “to be cool” was redefined by students as, to be kind, to be yourself, to stay friends, to give your best effort. Here are some reflections from students:

Grades 7 and 8: What you sacrifice to be cool

Great session on getting kids to understand why they start to move toward peer based relationships and away from their families. Lynn explained to the kids how their brains are wired and why they start to take bigger risks as they enter adolescence.

Grades 9, 10 and 11: Grit, Accountability, Caring and Social Awareness…Let’s Have Fun

Students learned that character habits are as important as performance habits in becoming excellent students and people. Lynn challenged them to think about the type of individuals they need in their lives to be great people.

Lynn’s message was one of optimism and faith in the ability of young people to change their attitude and behavior in order to achieve success. This approach is in line with many of the presentations that we have done in recent years at IICS focusing on the importance of attendance and participation, the role of approaches to learning in student success, the need for resiliency in all areas of life, and the benefits of developing a growth mind-set, especially when faced with failure or new challenges. We have seen so many students in recent years overcome all kinds of challenges in the classroom, on the sports field, on the
stage, and in social situation, and it seems to be the resiliency of their character that allows them to reach success. Lynn shared some memorable stories of students who had fallen down or taken a beating in life, but who had got back up to compete again and had reached their goals in the end.

When we consider the complexity of our children’s lives these days, there may be nothing more important than helping them to develop the resiliency to cope with challenges, some of which they probably never expected to experience. Our teachers, coaches and activity leaders will continue to promote Lynn’s message as we go through the rest of the school year.