An important lesson on goals

Published 9:52 pm Thursday, October 31, 2013

School Superintendent Deran Whitney probably wondered just what he’d gotten himself into when he was asked on Wednesday whether he was “the first person to create schools in Suffolk.”

The question came from one of the boys attending Creekside Elementary School’s Breakfast Club, which received a pep talk and a lesson on setting goals from Suffolk’s schools chief during its weekly meeting this week. It’s safe to say that Whitney probably could have prepared answers to a thousand questions without considering that one, but it’s not hard to imagine how the youngsters might have made the mistake of thinking someone in such a high-profile position in Suffolk schools must have had something to do with their creation.

Whitney — who, it should be noted, isn’t quite old enough to hold the distinction of founding the city school system — always presents the most professional of figures, and he never fails to come across as studious, well-prepared and intelligent.

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In short, he’s just the sort of man that young boys looking for a role model should emulate, which made him the perfect person to talk to a roomful of boys in neckties and button-down shirts about setting goals for improving their lives.

The Breakfast Club aims to give boys some of the building blocks they will need to go on to become successful young men, and one of the ways it does so is by exposing them to successful older men — though none so old as to have founded the city’s school system.

Whitney’s speech about setting goals was the sort of thing young professionals might expect to hear in a seminar or workshop setting, but the boys were perfectly comfortable with the topic. Indeed, they shared some of their own goals with him. One wanted to get his first win during the baseball season. Another wanted to finish the school year with straight A’s.

They were the goals of elementary students. But Whitney’s example to them will always be a reminder that even small or short-term goals are important, and that’s one of the first lessons successful people learn.