Memo From Michael: Thoughts on Turning 70

I am approaching this last month of 2012 with optimism but a special eagerness to enter a completely new year, a blank canvas on which I hope to paint a grand mural of another year’s worth of challenges and successes.

I confess that I have some trepidation approaching my 70th birthday (December 10) – that really, really sounds old to me. I’ve been torn between having some sort of celebration and just letting it pass quietly. My uncertainty has probably made the decision for me though my wonderful daughters have offered to organize a more notable event later in the month. Birthdays just aren’t the joyous occasions they used to be, though certainly as one gets older the reasons for real gratitude become stronger.

I also confess that approaching the Holiday Season – we celebrate both Hanukah and Christmas – with my with my family living close by, but in another house has potential to diminish the joy of the season.

So, as I would advise any of you to do, I will suck it up and focus as much energy and thought as I can muster on appreciating the enormous bag of blessings I have and planning how to multiply them in the New Year.

A great start – I will be taking my oldest daughter Samara (the junior at NYU) on a three-week cruise to Southeast Asia in early January. I can’t overstate how much I am looking forward to spending time with this incredibly accomplished young woman who I really want to get to know.

Adult children are, of course, still our children but they’re not really children, certainly not the children they were when they called me daddy and thought I was both cool and smart. They are completely different human beings, distant relatives to their younger versions.

On the JI front this has been a huge month. We issued our 2012 survey on the Ethics of American Youth and I’ve had a full agenda of media interviews. We also launched an extensive revision of our CHARACTER COUNTS! strategy as it has evolved into a comprehensive, integrated, values-based student development and school improvement system. It’s all based on a set of learning standards I’ve worked on for months integrating the academic, social, emotional and character development domains.

We will post links to materials and pertinent videos soon.

Have a great week.


P.S. I know the Institute is making it’s big annual donor push for contributions. I really hope you will give something. We will make very good use of the funds and we truly need public support.

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