Injy Sullivan is the principal of AF East New York Elementary. 

I had the pleasure of going ice skating with some of our awesome students and families recently. It was amazing to watch how our students interacted with fellow skaters and each other in an unfamiliar environment with little supervision from adults.

They encouraged friends (and moms) who were scared, and they helped little kids up off of the ground (and subsequently lost their own balance while doing so). They asked strangers if they were ok when someone they were skating close to slipped. I watched Israel fall to the ice at least 50 times and get back up completely unfazed, demonstrating true determination and grit. I heard Jabari saying that he didn’t know how to do a figure-eight—yet—embodying the growth mindset that we’re striving to build in all of our students.

It took me two days to recover from the sore muscles, but my spirits soared after the fun outing in the park because I witnessed our school’s character virtues—specifically grit, optimism, teamwork and compassion—come to life on the staking rink. Whenever our students have to put these values to use without prompting, it fills my heart with happiness because that means our character virtues are not just words on the wall—they’re ideals that we’re living and breathing every day.

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