Have you ever thought about what makes the difference in successful child rearing especially when too many children, pre-teens, and teen-agers seem to have become “victims” of adults who have missed the mark? We’re not referring only to non-caring adults and child practitioners but also those adults who seem to embody and embrace the qualities needed to produce caring, compassionate, involved, and accomplished children. Why does it too often appear that our precious plants and animals get more of the best of us than do our children? Could it be perhaps, that plants and animals can’t or don’t resist us as do children; that they don’t balk and sulk at the least admonishing, have no ax to grind and no prior knowledge or experience ( as some children have) with the myriad of negative forces into which they are born or become infused? Plants “respond” to favorable stimuli or the lack thereof and animals may initially put up a good fight in the face of rigorous training, but after such rigorous and consistent training coupled with the appropriate rewards, the results may be an animal who will do just as we have trained him to do. Now that is precisely my point; Producing good plants, ones we want to admire and display in a variety of settings, ones we wish to maintain through their designated season(s), and ones we want to replant from year to year takes a great deal of nurturing on our part. Very few plants and flowers flourish (the way we want them to), void of perpetual care. Even weeds can’t grow under the wrong conditions. Do you see where I am going here? Plants that you choose to nurture will reward you from season to season and animals you desire to train or befriend will “shower” you with the level of affection equal to the level of quality training and time invested in them. I did not say that they would not be productive for you and would not give you hours and years of pleasure without special attention, but I do emphasize that they will give you their best if they have received the best from you, their owners and caretakers. A former principal of mine used to preface memos as ‘gentle reminders’ for those tasks in urgent need of completion or attention. I presume that it was her way of saying, without raising the ire of her staff that the due date on a project was fast approaching; therefore we needed to get moving toward its completion. It was quite effective as far as I was concerned because you knew instinctively that she wanted to convey an important message without alienating anyone, and because of the firm but gentle tone employed in her memos, you gladly worked diligently to meet those all important “lifelines” (as I prefer to say) , not deadlines. A Chinese proverb reads thusly, ‘Govern a family as you would cook a small fish----very gently’. Fish are very delicate flesh and must be handled with care especially when cooking. They will easily break or separate. Only certain utensils are most effective when turning the fish in a pan or on a grill. Families are strong as a unit but each member must be handled with care which helps to prevent or reduce tension and or friction. The message in Our Best And Most Accomplished is not new and certainly not one that has not already been conveyed in a multitude of venues in places all over the world. It is not a re- invention of the wheel. Instead, it is a “wheel” which has been modified and stream-lined to reach more of the “masses”. Many have come before us and have inspired in us the desire to reach our highest good. Nothing could ever diminish the collective effect of individuals throughout history who have made a difference in the life of one person or in the lives of many. It so happens that on that historic night of November 4, 2008, Barrack Obama’s election to the presidency stirred up in me the words in my book, Our Best And Most Accomplished as a reminder that if we want to produce children of great character, productivity, involvement, compassion, with a sense of civic responsibility and the desire to pass on these qualities ,then we must treat each one as we would a precious seed with all of the potential to become the” strongest tree “ or the “ most beautiful flower”. Wishing will not make it so; it must be an intentional act of will; we must begin with the end in mind. An accomplished child with the makings of the kind of adult to whom we can all look with pride. After all, in many ways, Our Best And Most Accomplished are adults with a child’s inner core of innocence just waiting to be nurtured, watered, and warmed like the seed once planted, covered, and buried deeply … HRM
Helen Ryan Miles is a career educator having taught in the public school system for the past thirty-four years from the elementary to the community college level. She also served part of those years as a school social worker helping to insure the smooth transition and adjustment of students from home to school. She has taught science, health education, reading, and language arts and as a result of these assignments, her leadership skills were challenged as coordinator and director of mentorship programs, alternative education teacher, as well as testing chairperson. Miles was also selected to represent the Volusia County School System at the Southeastern Consortium for Minorities in Science and Engineering (S.E.C.M.E.) at the University of South Carolina, Columbia. Representatives were responsible for developing implementation plans for SECME programs in the Volusia County Schools. She is currently teaching language arts at the middle school level. Miles enjoys reading and writing social and political commentary most of all. Several of her essays and editorials have been published in her local paper, “The Daytona Beach News-Journal.”She is currently “rounding up” these and other of her creative writing for a book later in the year. She has been passionate about education and politics ever since she could remember. She credits her parents with her life-long love of education and her fifth grade teacher for recognizing her aptitude and interest in writing at an early age. Miles fondly recalls being selected pen pal to another fifth grade student in York, Nebraska in the mid sixties. “I was thrilled to have been chosen. My pen-pal and I must have corresponded for at least three or four years after that”. Another memorable writing “moment “ was having her essay chosen by the Daytona Beach Symphony Society’s LONDON SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA In the Home Program. The winning essayists were treated to a concert in their home performed by members of the London Symphony Orchestra in 2009! Miles is active in the FRIENDS group of the John H. Dickerson Heritage Library having served as President and Secretary ; Hope Fellowship Church, Restoring Hope Incorporated (RHI), Daytona Beach, FL, member and board member respectively; Community Development Board of Daytona Beach, member; Beta Iota Sigma chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Incorporated , past President and Secretary. She has also tutored children in a variety of settings. Miles received her A.S. Degree from Daytona Beach Community College, 1975 where she was named Most Outstanding Psychology Student.; B.S. from Florida State University (Tallahassee , FL) and charter member of the campus chapter of the NAACP.; Master of Education from Stetson University (Deland, FL). She is married to Billy C. Miles, retired elementary school teacher.
Excellent read and important message, set in poetry; Necessary actualization if our children are to achieve their maximum potential, helping to create a maximized level of success in our world. The words of this book remind me of the song lyrics: "I believe the children are our future; teach them well and let them lead the way; show them all the beauty they possess inside; give them a sense of pride to make it easier..." Our Best and Most Accomplished is an easy-to-read call to action. Heaven knows, much is at stake.