Who you are and what you know…

During my teacher preparation program, a professor told the class, “as a teacher, you can only teach who you are and what you know” – for some reason that small statement stuck with me. Maybe due to my need to understand the context of things (I was a history teacher), or maybe, the statement started me thinking about how crucial it is to be authentic.

For the past two weeks I have attended two funerals. One for an amazing 102 year old woman named Mary Fuller. Grandma Mary was my husband Mike’s grandma and my children’s “Grandma the Great”. Her ability to live her life to the fullest for her entire 102 years is not only an inspiration, but also… just super fun. And fun, is what Grandma Mary was, she was always quick to laugh and always quick to say yes to an outing or adventure.

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This past weekend I attended the funeral of my Great Aunt Angela (aka Auntie A). For the past four years my aunt has been rather sick and not totally with-it, but her passing marked an end to a generation of people. The first generation Iafigliola family who in 1911 emigrated to Cleveland, Ohio from Gildone, Italy. The picture posted above is of Angelo Nicola and Maria Teresa, my great grandparents, who gave birth to eight children, the last being my Auntie A.

Being from the United States, many of us have stories of immigration. Stories of grandparents who for many reasons, moved from their native home to the promise of America. The story of the Iafigliolas is not much different, but one thing to note is the Iafigliolas did not measure the American Dream in units of money, housing, or work, but rather, in family.

My Aunt Phil (Philomena Marie, born 1915) would tell us “I am a millionaire…my family, my sisters, my brothers, are worth more than jewels”. If you knew Aunt Phil, you would know she did not say this with sweetness, but rather with strong conviction, it was her truth.

So, what is the value of family? What is the value in knowing who you are and knowing who came before you?  For me, it means everything.

For to know me, is to know my Uncle Mike, Patrick, John and Joe and to know my Aunt Phil, Theresa and Angela, and to know my Grandma Jean. Because it is due to them –  I understand what love is and what family means.FullSizeRender

We often talk at SAMS about the concept that there is “no such thing as other people’s children,” and, now that I think about it, I learned that concept from my family. When I learned about Auntie A’s death, Amy K asked me if Auntie A had any kids.  I replied, “No, she did not.  But she put a few through college.” Yep, it’s definitely something that’s been passed down; there’s no such thing as other people’s children.

I’m not sure why I needed to write this blog, but maybe it is because it goes back to what my professor stated, “you can only teach who you are and what you know” – I am Iafigliola and I know how to love.

I also think I needed to write this blog because, I don’t think knowing who you are and what you know is reserved just for teachers. It is crucial for all of us, in all aspects of our life…right?

At SAMS We Give

“The only love we keep is the love we give away” Mother Teresa

As many of you know our Dean of Students Amy Kujawski was on maternity leave for the first quarter of the school year. And while on maternity leave she had the opportunity (many actually) to listen to podcasts like On Being, with Kirsta Tippett. During one of these listens, she heard professor of psychology Adam Grant discuss the concept of Givers. Immediately Amy emailed me and said, “listen to this, it is SAMS, it is what and who we are at SAMS, givers”. So, I listened and I agreed. SAMS is a place full of givers.

So what is a giver? A giver, defined by Professor Grant is someone who “looks for ways to improve the lives of others, they want to help others, and enjoy helping without expecting anything in return”. The research shows, over and over again, that givers, do not have to compromise their own professional success by being committed to improving the lives of others. This concept of giving is directly aligned with the underlying belief and vision of SAMS. At SAMS we believe it is our responsibility, as adults in care of children, to show children we care. To give them our love, unconditionally. We are givers!

Dr. Grant shares in this podcast, how the concept of giving is too often a contradiction in the workplace. That the work place is the last place generosity is discussed. But, when you ask people, what do they value, generosity is high on the list.  So why would we have to remove a core value upon entering our workplace? By being a giver, we don’t have to compromise who we are, but we can rather incorporate our giving in genuine ways.  The recipients of our generosity gain, but so do we.

Who are the givers in your life? When given the opportunity to reflect I know so many givers. First and foremost, my mother is the most giving person I know. Her unconditional love still grounds me. In addition, I am allowed to work in a profession that gives me the opportunity to give authentically and to love without embarrassment.

Please take a few minutes this Thanksgiving to think about the givers in your life (listen to the podcast too) and thank them. Thank you to the givers at SAMS.