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Steve Haberlin is an assistant professor of education at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia, and author of Meditation in the College Classroom: A Pedagogical Tool to Help Students De-Stress, Focus,...
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An Unexpected Lesson

This story begins with two girls and an injured hawk.

Well~ it really begins with a cardboard box.

As the teacher of gifted at my school~ I had a first grade and a second grade student working together on a community-service based project~ which involved collecting supplies for the local animal shelter. The students decided to create collection boxes to place around the school~ and decorated those boxes with as much creativity and gusto as possible. After spending a few weeks on the boxes~ they strategically placed them around the school campus.

Thats when the hawk arrived.

One day~ a night hawk~ its wing injured~ landed on one of the upper floors of the school campus. The school~ situated in downtown Tampa~ is an open-air campus built around a courtyard. The hallways are on the exterior of the school~ which means a desperate hawk could land there.

One of the schools guidance counselors came upon the bird~ which began opening its mouth when she approached it. Using a jacket~ she managed to pick the hawk up~ and needing a place to house the bird~ she reached for the only thing she could find:

The collection box my students had labored over for weeks.

The box became the birds new home as it was ushered to the local zoo for medical attention.

The counselor was nervous that I would be upset over the incident~ and later admitted that she almost didnt tell me what happened to the box.

However~ when she told me the story~ I beamed and told her that I was thrilled about what happened. The students box helped save an animals lifewasnt that the ultimate goal of the project anyway?

When I told my students what happened~ their mouths opened. They couldnt believe that a hawk flew into the school campus~ and was saved by their colorful~ cardboard box. While they were trying to help pets without a home~ their efforts indirectly benefited the life of another creature. The lesson became clear for all of us: Goals can be reached in the most unexpected ways. The path to success is not always a linear one.

Sometimes~ you try so hard to reach a goal or move in a certain direction~ but life has other plans.

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