Celebrating the Return of a Remarkable Educator to The Phoenix Center:
At TPC, we have been highly regarded as a school that grows great educators. Recently, we witnessed a heartwarming homecoming. Lisa Lyons, who started her career as a teacher at TPC (in the mid-90s), and is now an an educational consultant and a sought-after inspirational speaker came back to share insights that resonate deeply with this year’s theme: kindness. Her journey from a passionate educator to a happiness expert and back to the place where it all began, to speak on kindness, is a story worth telling.
The Roots of Kindness: A Lesson from Childhood
Lisa’s speech began with a simple yet profound childhood memory – a weekly visit to Appollo’s Bakery, in her hometown. It was here, amidst the hustle of a busy bakery, that she experienced a pivotal moment of kindness. A baker who noticed her struggle to be seen amidst taller, louder customers, extended a warm hand of recognition, by asking for her order. This act, small in execution but enormous in impact, left a lasting impression on Lisa, shaping her understanding of kindness.
Kindness: Seeing and Impacting Lives
In her insightful talk, Lisa emphasized that kindness is the art of truly seeing someone, even if it’s just for a fleeting moment. It’s these small acts of warmth and acknowledgment that can turn around a horrible day and have a lasting effect on both the giver and the receiver.
Kindness in Everyday Life
Lisa urged us to find kindness in everyday interactions – a simple smile to a passing stranger, a wave to someone walking their dog, or an acknowledgment of someone who seems to be having a rough day. Examples like these serve to highlight the universal need for human connection, which exemplify the act of kindness.
The Power of Human Connection
Lisa eloquently spoke about human connection as the cornerstone of kindness. This connection is about recognizing the complex, vivid lives of those around us – a concept beautifully encapsulated in the word ‘sonder’ (from “The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows” written by John Koenig). By understanding and empathizing with others, we not only enrich our own lives but also contribute to a more compassionate world.
Transforming Negativity through Kindness
A significant part of Lisa’s message focused on transforming our approach to negative experiences. She pointed out the human tendency to cling to negativity, often overshadowing the positive aspects of our lives. By consciously practicing kindness, even in challenging situations, we can shift our mindset and create a more positive experience for ourselves and others.
Kindness vs. Niceness
A pivotal moment in her speech was the differentiation between being ‘nice’ and being ‘kind’. While niceness is reactive, kindness is proactive and requires effort, understanding, and sometimes, courage. It is about extending kindness without expecting anything in return, even in the face of indifference or negativity. Kindness is a deliberate choice to show encouragement, support or appreciation.
Personal Stories of Kindness
Lisa shared touching personal stories, including a transformative encounter at a hospital while dealing with her own daughter’s illness. The deliberate act of another who showed her support and encouragement made a great difference for her. This experience not only showcased the profound impact of kindness but also highlighted how it can be a source of strength in difficult times.
The Lasting Impact of Kindness
Concluding her speech, Lisa encouraged everyone to practice conscious kindness. By being intentional and fully aware of the impact our actions have on others and choosing kindness, we can make a significant difference in the world.
A Full Circle of Inspiration
Lisa’s journey from The Phoenix Center to becoming an inspirational speaker and educational consultant and returning to share her wisdom is a testament to the incredible caliber of educators nurtured at our school. Her message of kindness aligns perfectly with our theme of the year and reminds us that the simplest acts can have the most profound impacts.
Her speech is not just a narrative; it’s an invitation to embrace kindness in our everyday lives. It’s a reminder that The Phoenix Center is more than a school; it’s a launching pad for individuals who can go on to make significant contributions to the world, always carrying with them the values and lessons learned here.