It's Worth It: Key to school year is saying yes to doing hard things

TRENT BOWERS
Trent Bowers

Although the 2020 school year is off to an unusual start, we still were able to celebrate going back to school with longstanding and important traditions.

Normally, we begin a school year with all 1,300 of our Worthington Schools staff members gathered together in the auditorium at Thomas Worthington High School for convocation. It's a fun atmosphere in which we play music and enjoy being back together, and I have an opportunity to speak and set the tone for the new year.

Obviously, during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, we could not come together as we normally do. Instead, we filmed our important messages, including an inspirational story about a Worthington graduate that is important to share as we face the challenges ahead.

Ryan Danley is a 2007 graduate of Thomas Worthington. He graduated from Butler University in 2011 and is employed in human resources at Honda.

We both played football for the Cardinals, and we both went to college in Indiana and married Indiana girls. We live within four miles of one another today. We have a lot in common.

At the same time, Danley is Black and I am white. He is handicapped and I am able-bodied.

We have a lot in common and see many things from a similar lens, but our differences cause us to see some things through different lenses.

In January 2019, Danley experienced a life-altering snowmobile accident that left him paralyzed at the waist.

I talked with Danley about how he's dealing with that change, how his accident has helped him better understand the perspectives of others, how he's training his mind and how talking with him has helped me better understand others.

We talked about the importance of empathy and considering others' perspectives when we face new or even familiar situations. That gives us a wider perspective to carry us through the world.

I'm incredibly grateful for Danley's willingness to sit down and talk with me. I'm proud of him for living a life worth emulating, for being positive and for using his hardships to help others navigate their own lives.

This year in Worthington Schools, we're embarking on a great challenge. We're entering a school year like we've never seen – school in the age of COVID 19.

I think Danley has set the example for all of us.

He's said yes to the hard things.

He's said yes to working to overcome his injuries.

He's said yes to having conversations about racial justice.

He's said yes to being positive when he had every reason to do otherwise.

This year in Worthington Schools, we all need to say yes to doing the hard things.

I can't say what this year holds for any of us. But if we're positive and can-do in our attitude, and if we really seek to understand one another and the students we serve, we'll have a great year.

I encourage you to visit our website, worthington.k12.oh.us, to watch my interview with Danley. I know you will be inspired, just as I was.

Trent Bowers is superintendent of Worthington Schools. Write to him at tbowers@wscloud.org.