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Who’s Packing Your Parachute?

Each year when we prepare our school calendar, we are always mindful of which times of the academic year are most appropriate for focusing on the various Character Traits that make up our Character Education Program. This year when deciding on when to focus on teamwork, there was no question that September was the best month to highlight this fundamental character trait. What better time to start a journey where teamwork is at the heart of everything we do? We are working hard this month to help the students appreciate the importance of teamwork and how much better our school experience will be if the “We Before Me” attitude is part of our motto. This not only applies to our students but to our entire school community.

A story that I have read a few times, about the importance of teamwork, is about a US jet fighter pilot in Vietnam named Charles Plumb. Plumb was on his 75th combat mission, just five days before the end of his tour, when he was shot down over Hanoi. He was ejected and parachuted into enemy hands. After six years of being held a POW, and living through gruelling circumstances, he was rescued. He has since gone on to live a productive life. One day, a man came up to him and said, “You’re Plumb! You flew jet fighters in Vietnam and were shot down!” Plumb was astounded that the man knew this about him, as he was a stranger to him. He asked the man how he knew him, and his story, and the man replied, “I packed your parachute.” He then shook Plumb’s hand and said, “I guess it worked.” Plumb responded by saying, “If the chute you prepared hadn’t worked, I wouldn’t be here today.” Plumb thought a great deal about this man, who, although a complete stranger to him, held his fate in his hands. Now, as a motivational speaker, Plumb tells this story whenever he gets a chance. In his speaking engagements, he often asks his audiences, “Who’s packing your parachute?”

In our lives, whether it be personal or professional, many people have a hand in our parachutes. This is particularly true in our lives as parents and educators. “It takes a village” is so very true when it comes to child-rearing and educating our young. The final lines in a beautiful poem entitled “Unity” really says it all ~ “And each agreed they would have failed if each had worked alone. For behind the teacher stood the school, and behind the parent, the home.” As we begin another school year together, let’s remember that we truly are a community, a team really, working toward common goals when it comes to the young ones that we have been entrusted with raising and educating. We are packing your parachutes with great care, and we hope that you too will do the same for us!

My best,

Marie Bates
Principal and Co-Founder
Children’s Garden School