Wisdom from the Dalai Lama is applicable to our schools

Kate Cocchiarella Portrait

By Kate Cocchiarella


It is a great day in a parent's life when we are inspired and uplifted through our child's perspective and experiences. We spend so many years teaching them that when turnabout comes, it seems much more than fair play.

Tucker, my 23-year-old son, recently had the opportunity to be present in an international audience with the Dalai Lama at his temple in Northern India. He called us that night and enthusiastically shared his experience and reactions.

"How can we be your hands?" a member of the audience asks the Dalai Lama. He answers simply, "Educate yourself, and spread what you learn." You can imagine that as an educator, this answer brought me great satisfaction. The Dalai Lama's belief in the power of education validates my belief that the path we are taking with students is the right one. Academics are just one aspect of what we hope to teach our students; emotional education is paramount, as well.

Reading, writing and arithmetic, in today's modern age, are just the tools we use to teach critical thinking and problem solving to our future leaders. The role that schools play is greater than ever before.

Relationships are essential to successful outcomes for children. From the smallest preschooler to the young adult about to graduate high school, all children want to feel loved; all children want to know that someone cares about their future. The more people each child has in his or her life who care about him or her, the better. There shouldn't be a limit to how many adults can care about a child, to how much love we can share, to the number of friends that enrich our lives.

Too many of our students feel adrift or alone. Too many young people are living in precarious situations. The realities of today's society can overwhelm the most jaded, let alone our most vulnerable. Our schools must be bastions of safety and care. Our community works together to make our little corner of the world a better place. We must persevere in this mission.

I continue to be honored to serve our public schools. The work we are focused on is important and will have value into the future. The wisdom, compassion and humor shared by the Dalai Lama on the afternoon of Wednesday, April 16, should be spread far and wide. Parents, teachers, friends, family members, bus drivers, food service, front-office staff, custodians, support staff and each and every one of us are in a position to affect the life of a child every day.

I believe that the work of Eagle County Schools has great value and potential for enormous ramifications to impact the world around us through the guidance and connections with our students; this is what motivates us. We will continue to strive for greater achievement and connections for all students. Let's all educate ourselves, spread what we learn and be part of the solution.

Kate Cocchiarella is the president of the Board of Education of Eagle County Schools. She can be reached at kate.cocchiarella@eagleschools.net.