Sunday, February 14, 2010

Personality traits to admire

by Brett Blumenthal - Sheer Balance, on Thu Jan 28, 2010 6:49am PST (REPRINTED)

I’ve written numerous articles and posts on difficult people, personalities and relationships: Everything from Manipulative Marys to Bullies in the workplace to people who break boundaries to toxic relationships. Let’s face it: In life, we come across all kinds! As humans, we often focus on those who are negative or toxic leaving it difficult to appreciate those who are positive and healthy. Seeking out individuals with healthy, positive traits, however, may do a lot of good. The more we can surround ourselves with those who are positive and healthy, the more we may model those positive behaviors.

If you really think about it, once in awhile you come across a person who knocks you off your socks…legitimately. Maybe they have a fantastic outlook on life, even during difficult times. Maybe they are really humble, although they are extremely gifted. Maybe they make you feel special. All of these are good.

Below, I've listed some of the traits I admire most in people. Although I could probably list a dozen characteristics, I thought I’d list those that seem to be the rarest or most difficult to find.

  1. Selflessness: In a world where many people don’t have the time or the interest in others, selflessness is a quality that seems to be less and less common. People can be selfless in the time they give, the ability to listen, their level of patience and the love that they give. Those who are giving and generous in nature have the power to make others feel loved, appreciated and special. While those who are self-absorbed tend to do the exact opposite.
  2. Tolerance: Those people who are tolerant make us feel comfortable with who we are and special as individuals. All of us are different, and many of us have quirks and idiosyncrasies. After all, these differences make the world go round. Having the ability to accept people for who they are and not expect them to be who we want them to be is important in life, happiness and in the health of our relationships.
  3. Genuineness: Having the ability to be real, authentic and honest is unique in a world where we put so much emphasis on the superficial. Feeling comfortable in one’s skin and being true to one’s self is one of the most beautiful traits one can possess. To have a REAL relationship with someone requires honesty…it requires hearing and giving input or feedback that may not always be popular…it means having the strength to tell it like it is and to not be afraid to face the consequences for doing so…it means loving people for who they really are…deep down…and not for what they appear to be.
  4. Sensitivity: So often we are focused on what is important to ourselves that we can forget about those around us. Those who are sensitive are often thoughtful, appreciative and loving, in a way that makes you feel understood, valued and respected. Often, sensitive people are also self-aware, making them mindful of how they impact others with what they do and say.
  5. Integrity: Call me cynical, but I think this characteristic is especially difficult to find. In a time when people will do things that are underhanded to make an extra buck (Bernie Madoff…can you hear me?), expose their personal lives to the public so they can be famous (balloon boy’s dad and any other reality TV mongers) and do what feels good in the moment without necessarily thinking of the consequences (Tiger Woods), integrity is a characteristic that is especially unique today.
  6. Humility: Whether someone is super-smart, extremely talented or drop-dead gorgeous, there is something extra special about them if they don’t come across as though they know it all the time. Humility in those that possess extraordinary traits make others feel special too.
I reprinted this article because I know we have so many teachers and servants in our public schools who exhibit some or all of these traits. I'd like to use the comments area of this post to celebrate Valentine's Day and show some love! Let's hear about the DCSS people who have had a profound effect on you or your child - as their teacher, counselor, bus driver, librarian, food service worker, janitor, .... you get the point. Share your stories highlighting some of the amazing, wonderful people in DeKalb County Schools!


Cerebration said...

I'll start. There's a teacher at Shamrock (used to be anyway, I'm not sure where he is now) - Mr. Lee - who taught 8th grade Algebra. He was my daughter's teacher the first year this requirement was initiated - without the students having had the benefit of pre-Algebra or anything. He treated each and every child with respect, concern and a positive attitude. He pulled out all the stops - he even taught them funny little dances to help them remember the formulas. He somehow managed to actually get the concepts of Algebra into these kids heads - these were not high-achievers - just regular kids who can get very overwhelmed. Mr. Lee is a master teacher - a real pro!

Anonymous said...

My daughter had an incredible science teacher in Chamblee MS 8th grade named Ken Townsel. He was a chemist (masters in Chemistry) before he went through the TAPP (Teacher Alternative Preparation Program). He was funny, interesting, knowledgeable, strict but fair, and did many hands-on experiments and activities. Mr. Townsel now teaches at the Ron Clark Academy. Our loss was their gain. But I'm so grateful my daughter had the opportunity to have Mr. Townsel as a teacher. She majored in biology at UGA. I think her science background in Mr. Townsel's class always gave a leg up in high school and in college.

The other wonderful teacher she had in 8th grade (great academic year because of the teachers) was Mr. Muska. He made social studies fun and interesting. Every day she would come home and tell me something else Mr. Muska said. I said I've got to meet this Mr. Muska. Wehn I met him, I understood why he was so successful - he really loved teaching 8th graders. The kids knew he loved teaching them and they responded in kind.

I was so grateful she had such terrific teachers.

Ella Smith said...

I remember an administrator who was at Lakeside years ago who moved on I believe to the county office, which is sad in once sense.

His name was Mr. Dorch. He was kind to the students. He was respectful to all teachers. I have never forgot his kindness to everyone regardless of who they were.

I also remember too many wonderful teachers to name that all my children have had in the Dekalb County School System. They worked hard and provided my children with a wonderful education.

All of my children except my baby have either graduated from college or are being successful in college currently. I appreciate each one of them for everything they did. Each one of them deserves a pay raise if still in the school system and a pay raise in retirement benifits if they are retired. I wish all the great teachers in the Dekalb County Schools, "HAPPY VALENTINE"S DAY!"

I wish all the teachers in Dekalb County were respected as much as the School Board respect Dr. Lewis and make cuts at the Central Office and in places money is being spent that could be saved and to provide all the teachers a Valentine Bonus that each of them deserves.

It has been a horrible experience for these teachers watching Dr. Lewis get a raise while these wonderful teachers continue to get pay cuts and benifits cut. Many of us here on Dekalb County School Watch feel your pain and only wish we could have inspired the Dekalb County School Board to consider the teachers' moral when the pay increase of the superintendent was voted on.

We care at Dekalb County School Board Watch. We know that teachers are the key to our childrens future. It is not the county office staff which make a difference in the day to day lifes of our childen. Again, thank you to all the teachers in the Dekalb County School System. We appreciate each one of you on Valentine's Day and each other day throughout the school year.

Anonymous said...

His name is Michael Pope. He taught science at a DeKalb middle school and swam upstream every day to impart science concepts and critical thinking.

Several years ago, realizing that there was hardly any advance notice of the Fernbank Scientific Tools & Techniques program to which his 8th-graders could apply, he focused on getting as many of his eligible students in the application pool as possible. What followed was an obstacle course of unbelievable proportions. He worked to get parents to actually support the application process. Then he worked to get other teachers on board, because they only threw together sub-par recommendations for the students. Afterward, he saw firsthand through my own son what many of us already knew -- that even after all that, there was a scoring process that effectively denied the coveted slots to middle schoolers in one part of the county. I had to request the scoring details to find out why my own son missed the mark by one point, only to learn that he hadn't missed it at all. The slots were "reserved" for students who scored less, but were from schools north of the invisible line some never spoke of. Of course, that doesn't happen today. We pray.

My son benefitted greatly from the program, and Mr. Pope succeeded in sending the greatest number of students from that school in one year. To this day, those students -- including my son who graduated from a large university last year, remember Michael Pope and his influence on them. He is very much missed.

SongCue said...

When my girls were at Fernbank Elementary School, they had some amazing teachers! Sheila Barid in 2nd grade, who had the students write in journals every day and then took them home every night because she read every entry and wrote comments IN EACH JOURNAL.
The 5th grade team of teachers was, and is, an incredibly dedicated group. Their make-up was Paige Gillett, Alicia Norton, Thomas Benefield, and Karen Pitt. Each taught their own specialty, and taught it well. They cared about all of the kids in the classes.

My older daughter was in 5th grade on 9/11. It was decided that Karen Pitt would discuss this with the 5th graders. Although any of these fine people would have known the right things to say to 5th graders, Karen handled it with just the right touch. I'll never forget that.

And Cere, my older daughter had John Lee at Shamrock, too. He's retired and moved to be closer to his kids. But my daughter's 8th grade year at Shamrock included a team of teachers and students that made up a magical year. John Lee taught math, Sandy Gregory taught science, Trey Palmer taught social studies, and Billie Mears taught Language Arts. They were all wonderful. I'll never forget stopping in to Ms. Gregory's science class one morning to give her something and noticing that, up on the board, was a graph showing the trajectory of a comet that was passing close to the earth. She and the students had been tracking it for a week. She noted that this wasn't part of the 8th grade curriculum, but gosh it was great to watch (and how many skills did these kids learn? tons!)

That was also the year that John Lee decided it was time to take his 8th grade team back to Tybee Island. He used to do it and had stopped. But a former student, who was in college, waited on him at a restaurant. She asked him if he still took students there. When he said "no, not in a while," she was sorry to hear it. She said it was one of the best memories she had form Middle school---she got to know the other kids and teachers much better.

At our parent meeting for the Tybee trip, Mr. Lee and the other teachers explained all of the activities that would be done, the QCCs that would be met, etc. But then Mr. Lee stopped, looked at all the parents and students and simply said, "But what we're really going to Tybee Island for is to make memories!"

Thanks to all of the wonderful teachers who touch our children's lives turn them into lifelong learners!

Anonymous said...

What a lovely, heartwarming idea this was! As a teacher, I don't always "feel" the love outside of my classroom, but this has absolutely made my day. Thanks to all of you who shared. Happy Valentine's Day to you and your children.

Anonymous said...

I taught at Fernbank in the 1990s with all of the teachers you mention. They were wonderful teachers. I know as a fellow teacher how much they cared about their students.

BTW, John Lee went to school at Fernbank, Druid Hills, and Emory and then back to Fernbank and then to Shamrock to teach his entire career. That was a man that truly understood the word community.

Shelia Barid was one of the most amazing teachers I ever worked with. She was so inspiring and creative. She was willing to try anything to help her students, and her students soared. Fernbank ES is a wonderful school.

Dekalbparent said...

My kids were not in DCSS at the time, but I have to give recognition to Michael Schmidt. Both my kids had him, and although his nominal subject was 6th and 8th grade World History, he taught SO much more. My kids read a Canterbury tale in the original, read and discussed the social theories of Rousseau, Hobbes, and Locke, studied Renaissance art (including the female artists whose names have been dropped from general awareness), debated evolution, and did a 6th grade production of Julius Ceasar.

In between, he had sword fights (plastic swords) with students who disagreed with him and was always available for help with school work or personal stuff (and the kids trusted him with their problems), and ran a current affairs club called All Things Reconsideredo.

He moved to the west coast - our loss, their gain.

Anonymous said...

Karen Williams at KMS teaches from the bottom of her heart. She is endlessly resourceful and uses her imagination to come up with lessons that will engage the students. She is truly a Master - every kid matters to her, and she never gives up, no matter what they do. Each new day is a clean slate.

Anonymous said...

As a parent i would like to thank and wish all the teachers and school bus drivers a very happy valentine's day. The drivers are the first person they see in the morning and then the teachers, these are the people who need the salary increase. Have a bless day

Ella Smith said...

I also wish all the secretaries, the bus drivers the custodians, the librarians, and all other employees, Happy Valentines Day.

Brett Blumenthal said...

Thank you so much for reposting the content. The original article and more like it can be found at

Thanks so much!
Brett Blumenthal

Mary Kay Woodworth said...

Not in the system anymore, but a few of the greats that my four kids were honored to have had, many of them still at those schools:

Henderson Mill Elementary:
Suzette Stinson
James O'Donnell "O.D"
Johnette Darcy
Monica Wildes
Jan Pasek

Henderson Middle School:
Johnathan Clark
Frank Williams
JoAnn Fons (at HM Elementary, too)
Dale Duncan

Eddie Roberts
Rick Barbe
Anthony Stinson
Holland Miller
Nancy Zarovsky
Terry Krugman

Many more, but these come to mind now!

Cerebration said...

So glad you wrote this article, Brett! We have many teachers in our schools who are unsung heros for their daily display of these character traits.

Always enjoy your posts at

Thanks for inspiring our discussion!

Kim Gokce said...

I have hesitated to post accolades here because there are so many deserving of praise at Cross Keys. I know from my mother's 27 years teaching in Fulton Co. how much our teachers work. But I have never seen a faculty that goes to the lengths as that of Cross Keys - they are en masse the best faculty in DeKalb Co. and I dare to say beyond!

Much of what they do I cannot relate to you out of respect for privacy of teachers and students alike. I have no hesitation in saying they give of themselves and their wallets like no other faculty.

During my time working on behalf of this most misunderstood DeKalb high school, I have learned why we have such an extraordinary faculty: the students.

No one that has worked with CKHS students is ever the same: they inspire loyalty and admiration by their character. All teachers in DeKalb make great efforts for our young people but none more so than those of Cross Keys.

The examples of our faculty's commitment are too long to inventory here but I have to share one recent example that is a reflection on both our teachers and our students.

Tracy Vax and Jake Eismeier sponsor the Interact Club, a service organization. Their young people have worked tirelessly in civic and service projects this year which culminated in this achievement as related by Mr. Eismeier:

"On Saturday, I took representatives from the CK Interact Club to the annual conference at Riverwood High School. For the second year in a row (and third time in four years), we took home first place for best scrapbook. The scrapbooks are evaluated based on both aesthetics and content (documentation of serice projects). Juniors Saadia Q. and Vy T. put in an incredible amount of work into the scrapbook; we will place it on the table in the front office on Tuesday so staff members can take a look. It's very impressive to take first place considering we competed against teams like Milton, Campbell, Chamblee, and North Springs. Also, we were represented by members My N., Laura R., Vesselina K., Javier G., and Susanna T..

Finally, a quick story - four of the students didn't want to impose on me and ask for a ride to Riverwood. They took Marta to the Medical Center station and walked TWO HOURS on a chilly morning to Riverwood. Instead of complaining, they said the walk gave them a chance to get to know each other better. I will definitely remember this story the next time I'm tempted to complain about minor annoyances when I'm in the copy room!

And one last thing - Coach Wallace and I brought seniors Thuy L. and Maggie E. to the Agnes Scott Scholars Weekend on Sunday. They have already earned $80,000 each and had the chance to do interviews for more scholarship money. They are on campus today to attend classes and talk to students. And senior Yehimi C. will be going to Agnes Scott in three weeks for the Gouizeta Scholars weekend, one of about 20 students from around the country to interview for a full, four-year scholarship."

When you consider that Mr. Eismeier also coaches the girls varsity soccer team in his "spare" time and "dabbles" in AP Literature instruction during the school day, how can we say anything but a humble, "Thank you!"

Anonymous said...

That's a great post Kim. And one more reason why we don't need the ridiculous instructional coaches and other Gloria Talley staff members assigning teachers unneeded busy work. Let our teachers teach and run afterschool clubs and programs. No more bureuacracy for bureaucracy's sake.

Cerebration said...

I would like to send out warm fuzzies to Mr. Cass at Lakeside High School. He is a quiet, deliberate, easy going teacher for students with learning disabilities. Since he always works with small classes, usually out in an old trailer, he is not widely recognized. However, Mr Cass is the one person at Lakeside who always not only could actually teach my daughter the material at hand, but make her set goals, achieve them and feel successful.

A quiet, under-recognized jewel of a teacher -- Mr. Cass!

Anonymous said...

I want to mention Mr. McFerrin, who is the assistant principal at Dunwoody High School. My child will be starting at Dunwoody in the fall, coming from a small private school. He took the time to meet with us, gave us a tour of the school, and allowed my child to "shadow" a number of classes which has made us both feel much more comfortable and very welcomed by the school. He also reached out to the coaches of the various teams my child is interested in trying out for, and they have added us to their email lists so that we receive information about spring try-outs, summer training, etc. I know he was not required to do any of this and I really appreciate that he took the time to welcome an incoming freshman. He seems to genuinely care about the school and the students. Getting to know him has made me feel very positive about our upcoming year at Dunwoody.

Cerebration said...

I have a child with learning disabilities, who never was awarded anything for anything. She cheered on her peers, year after year, as they collected their awards. Seemingly, no one really noticed that she never got one. But I tell you, she is a wonderful child — a wonderful person. One year, her chorus teacher, Ms. Bailey-Summers at Shamrock, was giving out chorus awards (which although my daughter loved singing, she was not an award-winning singer either) – but this wonderful, caring, beautiful teacher gave my child an award called “Just Because”. She said she gives out one every year to the student who is always present, always attentive, always prepared and always kind. It moved me to tears. It still does every time I notice it in her room.

Sometimes you do have to consider the students who are always on the sidelines – never recognized for anything special. I’m certainly not advocating taking away anyone’s academic award or athletic awards – these are always so important and hard to earn. I’m just saying – try adding some additional awards for human character traits like good stewardship, cheerfulness, thoroughness, integrity, thoughtfulness and random acts of kindness. These are just as important as intelligence in the scheme of things as we move along in life.

Kim Gokce said...

That is fantastic. A great human being does not require high IQ or SAT scores.

Thanks for sharing your personal story - how much difference can we make for a child with a small gesture!

You know we're offering two modest scholarships this year at Cross Keys Foundation for the first time. We've asked the faculty to identify one male and one female "Unsung hero" type individuals.

There is no competition or essay writing. These are faculty candidates that we've simply asked exhibit: 1) Service to their peers and the school, 2) Service to the greater community, 3) Extraordinary commitment to their academic development.

We don't care if they have a 2.5 or 3.5. We are looking to hold up for recognition and emulation two hard working kids of good, well-rounded character that will forever be a credit to their families, schools, and communities.
I'm so excited to award these scholarships I can't stand it!

Printing up ceremonial checks this week and readying custom, fine jewelry pins - come by Cross Keys Honors Night on May 13 at 6pm in the gym if you want to see some amazing kids.

Dekalbparent said...


Beth Grisewood and Laura Mantrone of Fernbank ES Interrelated Services who helped my LD kiddo realize she is never down for the count.

Anna Box, formerly at DHHS, who taught my kiddo who thought she was terrible at math that she was actually quite good at it, and turned her into a math scholar.

Kettyah Chhak, at DHSS who showed my jaded kiddo that science is exciting and enjoyable. Need more like her.

Noelle Peterson, at DHHS, who taught same kiddo that she had an artist within.

Martha Donovan, at DHHS, for enthusiasm and boundless energy while wearing multiple hats, (IB coordinator, counselor, English teacher, mommy).

The entire IB faculty at DHHS:
Martha Donovan, Dr. Christopher Smith, Melissa King Rogers, Jennifer Strickland, Patrick Dougherty, and Lauren McKinley for starting my kiddo on the painful road to good writing and thoughtful reading, challenging her to think about the world mathematically, teaching her that history is alive, it's a story, and it is sooo totally relevant, and making her think in a way she never has before, ..

Dr. Rebecca England Chair of DHHS Counseling, for her unflagging energy in presenting opportunities to the students.

And definitely not least, Amy Shaye, DCSS School Psychologist, who showed us from the beginning she has a heart and a brain, and made it possible for my LD kiddo to see the sky is her limit.

Anonymous said...

Awesome Kim. Those are my favorite awards to give. Both children will be shocked and honored by receiving such an award.

Anonymous said...

Chamblee High School has some of the best teachers around ... to name a few that most definitely stand out among the rest: Dr. Jessica Hunt, who is retiring this year, has led the Math Team to victory after victory with her time and genuine care. And, Ms. Russack (also retiring) who really cares. The students know it and really learn under their caring guidance. Chamblee is losing two treasures. Leisa Scoggins, TOTY and thankfully NOT retiring, is a gem. She teaches with care and kindness. She gives students the benefit of the doubt and lots of respect. Because of this, she builds self-esteem while teaching ... she doesn't bark at the kids or make them feel "little" ... she could teach a class on how to effectively teach teenagers. Mr. Neuhaus teaches German in such a way as to hold the interest of his students and makes them want more and more of the language. He treats the students like adults and respects them. I'm sure there are many who share this teaching style, but these stand out to many as examples of excellence. I applaud them and hope more teachers who bark and belittle will take a look at a style that works. I dare say I bet these teachers have very few, if any, discipline issues. The students want to please them, and they make learning fun. An anomaly these days. Hopefully, however, our "leaders" (term loosely used) recognize these attributes, even though they appear to go largely unnoticed by Premier DCSS Administration's "standards." Wake up, School Board, and protect these precious assets who teach our precious assets.

Cerebration said...

Love your bus drivers too!

Celebrating 41 years behind the wheel

More than 100 people turned out on May 16 at the Fontainebleau Clubhouse to celebrate the retirement of DeKalb County school bus driver Anita Coleman.

At the age of 76, Coleman is retiring after 41 years of driving Dunwoody’s children to and from school - including Kingsley Elementary, Peachtree Middle and Dunwoody High, as well as athletic events ranging from basketball, football and softball to band and cheerleading. ...

Her oldest daughter, Bonita Violante, pointed out that for 41 years, her mother has risen at 5 a.m. five days a week, no matter how bad the weather, to drive her route. She has endured all the usual discomforts of public school buses, including lack of air conditioning, and has suffered for more than 20 years from rheumatoid arthritis.

She did it, she said, “for the kids.”

Thank you Anita Coleman ~ you are a gem!

Paula Caldarella said...

Congratulations to the DeKalb County students who will receive their high school diplomas throughout this weekend.

You made it!!!

Now, go out and make the world a better place!!!

Anonymous said...

Clint Momon - Chamblee Charter High School

One of my all-time favorite people! He graduated from Georgia Tech where he also played football. He teaches math at CCHS. And, one of the most notable things: when a student on the CCHS swim team suddenly sank to the bottom of the pool and almost drowned, Mr. Momon -- whose classroom was at the end of the hall near the gym lobby -- was still in his classroom even though it was way past the end of the school day. He heard the calls for help, he raced to the pool area and he performed CPR on the student, saving the student's life.