Good morning, everyone. It’s great to be here and to have the opportunity to give you some parting thoughts before I retire from Fay at the end of the month. I’ve worked at Fay for 40 years. I started as an English teacher at the age of 24, and I lived in the Steward Dorm and coached several different sports. I actually coached Mr. Beloff in both basketball and baseball, which gives you an indication that I’m a pretty old guy. I became the Director of Secondary School Counseling after having been at Fay for ten years, and then I also became the Associate Head of School five years ago. I’ve had a very rewarding career at Fay, and I want to tell you a bit about what I’ve learned during my 64 years on this earth.
I want to give you my thoughts about your future and how to live a meaningful life. So here goes....
Follow your passions when choosing what you want to study in school and what you want your career to be.
Don’t do what others tell you to do or what you think society thinks you’re supposed to do. My father was a lawyer, and he wanted me to be a lawyer, and I actually even went to law school for a little while before realizing that the law wasn’t for me. It was hard for me to leave that profession because I didn’t want to disappoint my father and because I thought that I would be prominent in society if I were to become a lawyer. When I left law school, I sort of fell into my teaching job at Fay and soon discovered that teaching, coaching, and dorm parenting fit my personality well. Later, when I became Director of Secondary School Counseling, that job was a great match for my personality as well. It was still a bit difficult for me because, in the United States, educators are not looked upon with as much esteem as lawyers, but now, in the twilight of my career, I can look back and know that I did the right thing. I had a career that I was passionate about and one that fit my strengths as a person.
Do what you want to do, not what you think you’re supposed to do.
This previous story also shows that the best laid plans don’t always work out the same way you thought they would, but that can be a very positive thing. Have the courage to change your mind and change your plans if that’s what’s best for you.
Be nice to others and stick up for people who are being bullied.
When I was your age, and even later in high school and college, I wasn’t the nicest person to others. I would sometimes make fun of other kids, and others would laugh—I felt pretty cool when this happened and thought that my social standing was improving as a result. When looking back on that, I have regrets. I now rarely do that kind of thing, but it’s taken me a long time to learn that it’s wrong and that social standing isn’t necessarily so important. I want you to know this now so that you don’t make the same mistakes that I did, so that you don’t hurt other people, and so that you stick up for people in need.
Instead of hurting others, help people.
You feel good about yourself and about life when you do things for others or give advice that helps others when they seek your advice. Helping others gives your life true meaning and makes you happier.
Every day is a new beginning. If things are bad, have faith that they will get better. An example for many of you will be when you attend your next school after Fay. The transition may be hard at first. You may feel out of place and unhappy at times during the first few weeks, maybe even the first few months. Don’t despair. Don’t give up. Every day is a new start, and know that things will improve.
Enjoy the important things in life.
The pandemic has actually helped us with this. Your family and friends are so significant in your lives, as is the ability to sit back and reflect upon the everyday joys of life.
Surround yourself with people who bring out the best in you.
Focus on THOSE friends. In these days of social media, understand that it’s really not about how many friends you have; the important thing is to have good, true friends. Quality is much more important than quantity. You will be in good shape as long as you have at least one great friend.
Appreciate your opportunity to have gone to Fay. My three children all went to Fay, and they now say that they got a great foundation for their adult lives. My son Alex says that he had a huge advantage when interviewing for jobs right out of college because of what he learned and practiced at Fay, such as public speaking, self-advocacy, and being able to talk genuinely about yourself and your strengths and weaknesses. Also appreciate your parents for their sacrifices in sending you to Fay.
Continue to work at becoming a better person all of your life.
That should be your goal for your entire life. I’m 64 years old and am still trying to become a better person as I get older and evolve every single day.
Here is my final point, and it’s a very important one:
Have fun in life!
We are so fortunate to have been given the opportunity to live. Enjoy every day, have a good sense of humor, do fun things, and make fun comments—but never at the expense of others. Always treat everyone with respect. Every person has equal value!
Whether you’re leaving Fay today or tomorrow, or in the coming years, do us proud! And do yourself proud! I have full confidence that you will.