The art of storytelling was on full display when John Amaechi, a psychiatrist, educator and retired NBA player, recently spoke to our community at long assembly. I spoke to some students about his talk and the Q and A in Towles Auditorium, and there were some themes that kept coming up in my discussion with students.
Students spoke about how his stories touched them and how he was able to map out how he got to this point in his life. Students stated that they didn’t feel preached to, which is very important in terms of their mental engagement and presence in assembly. His overall message was for all of us to pay attention to the interactions that we are involved in because we don’t know which ones will affect the rest of our lives. Students appreciated the fact that he addressed the major effort that it would take to put importance into every interaction. He spoke about having integrity in your interactions and everyday life, which would take the immediate focus off of how to act within an interaction.
Kids commented on how entertaining he was while delivering an important message. They enjoyed the humor that he brought to his speech. He seemed to be really enjoying talking to the community. He is a busy man but he made us feel like he was fully engaged with us and enjoyed his time here.
I spoke to Jenny Carlson-Pietraszek after the assembly and she had the right word to describe him. She stated that he was “unapologetic.” He found a way to challenge the community without being overbearing. He stated his thoughts and beliefs and backed them up with personal stories.
There was no chance that we all left assembly without thinking about what he said. Students said that he empowered them. He was able to make us all look at ourselves as agents of change.
- Mark Spence, Upper School Counselor