So I had occasion this week to take a group of students to be judged.
They are our school’s Sterling Scholars, a designation that implies excellence in scholastic endeavors and a focus in a particular category. These kids have spent the past six months working on educational portfolios full of 500-word essays. They’ve bought suits. They’ve practiced interviewing, and – depending on category – performance pieces. They’ve worked hard, is what I’m telling you.
Tuesday we took a (long) bus ride to the interview site and they met their judges. I couldn’t enter any of the rooms, obviously, but as I met with the kids to debrief after their interviews, I saw a definite pattern emerge: The kids felt good about the idea of the interview – they were prepared. Then, right before their time, they started to grow nervous – the chatterers grew silent, the calm ones got fidgety. They cheered/hugged/high-fived each other and sent the interviewee on his way, and when the time was over, they watched the door for the return of their friend.
Almost every kid came back from the interview and said, “That was awesome! They asked great questions. They were so nice.”
They were so nice.
The judges – educators and category professionals – were nice to my kids. For a nerve-wracking fifteen minutes, these adults made my kids feel like winners. They celebrated their successes. They nudged for further greatness. They sought reasons to be impressed.
Oh, that I would be such a judge.
When called upon to judge (and especially, when NOT called upon to judge) I hope I can remember this feeling – the gratitude I have for those men and women who gave freely of their time to encourage, to celebrate, and to congratulate. I hope I can emulate their goodness.