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The Bouncing Ball: A Lesson in




As the superintendent of a small one-building school district, I was sitting at my desk during lunch one day when a little boy entered the office. Upon seeing me, he wanted to know if I was the guy in charge. I replied I was and asked his name. He said it was Cameron.

“Well, Cameron, what brings you in here?” I asked.

“Actually,” he replied, “I’m in 1st grade, and I find it’s getting kind of hard. Can you do anything about it?”

“I guess as the guy in charge you could expect me to have that ability,” I said. “What would you like me to do?”

“That’s up to you. After all, you’re in charge.”

“Now, Cameron, work with me here. Give me some idea of what you want.”

“Well, could you make 1st grade any easier?” was his request.

Dribbles and Kicks
That was not unreasonable to ask of the guy in charge.

“Well, why don’t we think this through, Cameron, and see if that is what you really want,” I offered. It was the best I could come up with on short notice. “Do you like to play any games or sports?”

“I play soccer and my older sister plays soccer and basketball,” he answered.

“Tell me about your soccer and your sister’s basketball,” I said.

Cameron proudly said, “I’m a good passer. I can also kick the ball hard. My sister can dribble better than anybody.”

“What does the ball do when you kick it hard?” I inquired.

“It bounces off my foot. It happens because you give the ball a hard kick.”

Feeling on a roll, I continued, “You say your sister dribbles better than anybody. When she dribbles a basketball, it bounces back off the floor. That couldn’t happen if the floor wasn’t hard.”

Back in Action
Tying the lesson neatly together, I said, “Cameron, sometimes life can get hard. It can happen anywhere at any time, whether it is in the 1st grade, 3rd grade, middle school or later. What is most important is that you learn to be like the ball and bounce back. It’s called resiliency and it is one of the most important traits you can develop. Whenever life gets hard and you seem stretched to the limit, always remember to bounce back.

“Now, is there anything more you would like?”

“Yeah, I’d like to get out of here and get to recess.”

Footnote: Cameron’s 1st-grade teacher reports he and his 10 classmates all did well.

Dave Moscinski is the superintendent in Stockbridge, Wis. E-mail:


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