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MLK and Responsibility to Others

On the third Monday in January, we pause to recognize and honor the life and dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

It is a day Americans can use to reflect on the struggles over discrimination, equal rights and segregation that helped make the world a better place for all of us today.

Dr. Marvin McMickle recently said that we are remembering the suffering and sacrifices of another generation. Adding, “Each of us has a duty to serve this present age.”

In the Greendale Schools, we understand the importance of service. I am convinced that service is part of a successful, well-lived life. We model service to others — for our students and our colleagues. Service to others is a responsibility each of us has as part of the bond of life together and in community. I know that we learn more and gain greater understanding through service. I have learned that first hand working with Special Olympics International and finding youth voice at Greendale Schools. I have learned first hand that I can do better in serving the needs of undeserved and special needs youth and their families.

Perhaps, we can find that spirit in reaching out to those in dire need in Haiti now. UNICEF or the Red Cross is a place to start that effort.

The Greendale Schools focuses on outstanding student achievement and developing a sense of responsibility in our young people. We can use the life and work of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to bring the universal core values of non-violence, tolerance, equality, service and justice to ourselves—as well as Greendale youth and children.

Teachers have a responsibility to lead. A responsibility to show the way to knowledge and to assist students to acquire skills and dispositions that help those they teach to understand the human spirit. Teacher Leaders model this value in their work with faculty and colleagues. As we go forward in public schools they will be standing up in the face of trouble and adversity. Even when they pay a price of conflict and hurt. Those who may not share in these core universal values will through others work and example, can come to the realization of how important each core value is to a good life.

I know that someone in our lives - a parent, family member, team mate, coach, friend, clergy, mentor or teacher showed us the importance of service and contributing to others.~ For some, the lack of this influence became apparent and we figure it out on our own — usually with even greater drive and zeal then many who take this work for granted.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said and wrote: “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”

Please take some time on Monday or during this week to discuss Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s work with students and share your understanding of these core values. I have included several references below. One the King Center, the other an article a colleague of mine, Anthony Welch wrote a few years back.

Please take time over the next few days to stop and reflect on the importance of education and service. Not only for ourselves and our Village but, to those we serve.


Established in 1968 by Coretta Scott King as a living memorial dedicated to the preservation and advancement of the work of her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr., the King Center provides a wide range of resources including MLK related news, historical information, and more

MLK's call for service resounds in Haiti's needs,

Martin Luther King Jr. and Cesar E. Chavez: Legacies of Leadership and Inspiration for Today’s Civic Education by Anthony Welch

About the author: Dr. William Hughes has worked in education for  31 years as a teacher, principal, superintendent of schools. He has served as Superintendent of the Greendale School District in Greendale, Wisconsin for the past 14 years. Greendale is a garden community and one of three greenbelt communities in the United States. It is a suburban district of about 2,600 students located in the Milwaukee metro area; an area known for high achieving schools.  Greendale is known for its high level of student achievement with over 90 percent of graduates attending higher education institutions, ongoing community engagement on multiple levels, along with collaborative relationships with bargaining groups while retaining a focus on children, service, citizenship and learning. He is a former board member of the Milwaukee Area Technical College, a member of the National School Climate Council, board member of the National Center for Learning and Citizenship and adjunct professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.   

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