Letter from Principal Rue

  • Dear Chinook Parents & Guardians,

    At Chinook, we work hard to instill “GRIT” in our students. What is grit, you might ask? Angela Duckworth, author of a fantastic book (that should be a “must read” for all parents and educators alike) entitled Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, states, “I define grit as a combination of both perseverance and passion for long-term goals.” More than intelligence or talent, it is grit that leads to success in life. The good news is that there are things that parents and educators can do to help instill grit in our children…here are some easy
    ways for parents to get involved in building grit in your middle schooler:

    1. Help your child find a sense of purpose. At Chinook, I met with our students at the beginning of the year and challenged them to get on the “graduation path.” This means staying focused on passing classes, and working hard now so that passing high school classes later is easier to do. Talk to your child about achieving the dream of high school graduation, and then encourage them to think about what they may want to pursue after high school. Later this year, our 8 th graders will be taking a career interest survey…we’ll let you know when that happens so that you can start to help your child plan their “high school and beyond plan.”
    2. Grit Interviews. Connect your child with grandparents, neighbors, or community members who have worked hard toward a long-term goal and encourage your child to interview them and learn their story. Our students need “gritty” role models.
    3. Share stories of gritty famous people. Encourage your child to study famous people (and their failures) like Michael Jordan or J.K. Rowling. These examples will show your child that perseverance through failure can lead to great success.
    4. Model grit. If you make a misstep in your own adult life, acknowledge your error to your child, discuss it with them, and talk through your plan for a resilient response. How we as adults deal with our failures can speak volumes to our children.
    5. Encourage curiosity. Set aside a bit of time on a regular basis to ask your child questions about anything that interests them, no matter the topic.
    6. Ask yourself, “What is it that I am currently doing for my child than I cannot do?” I’ve been guilty of this myself…if my son forgets his instrument at home, I run it to school for him. If my teenager leaves his clothes on his bedroom floor, I’ve been guilty of picking it up for him, and so on. Many times, we tend to approach parenting from the standpoint of “what more can I do for my child?” Rather, consider what you should “not do”. Every child is different, and will be ready to take on certain responsibilities at different times…just remember to regularly reflect on what you can take off your own “to do” list and place the responsibility on your child.
    7. Try the “Hard Thing” Exercise. There are 3 parts to the “Hard Thing” Exercise: 1) Each member of the family has to do something hard. 2) You must finish what you start. 3) No one gets to pick the “hard thing” for anyone else, so your child gets to choose his or her own challenge. This can spark some great dinner table dialogue as members of the family support one another in completing their respective “hard things.”

    Developmentally, middle school is an important time to intentionally foster grit in our students. We look forward to partnering with you in developing resilient, perseverant learners who are on the path to becoming critical thinkers and contributing citizens that will truly help our society build a better future.


    Best Regards,
    Kirsten Rue
    Proud Principal of Chinook Middle School