MIDDLEBURG — After he was presented the Student Spotlight honor Tuesday, E.O. Young Elementary second grader Jayceon Wright was asked during his interview with The Dispatch what advice he would pass on to other students to be successful.
“Stop arguing,” Jayceon answered, with little hesitation. “Be the best you can be.”
“That’s why you were chosen for this,” E.O. Young Principal Marylaura McKoon told Jayceon. “There’s a lot of arguing in the world, isn’t it? We all just need to accept each other.”
In an elementary school, the traits of poise and eloquence are most often reserved for fourth or fifth graders. But Jayceon, 8, is one of the exceptions, in a school that puts a great amount of emphasis on the social and emotional aspects that go along with being a young student.
He’s an example of how E.O. Young features “champions at all different grade levels,” McKoon said.
But if a student is going to stand out as an E.O. Young Tiger, they better be ready to roar. Here, ROAR stands for “Responsible learner,” “Outstanding leader,” “Accepting of others,” and “Respectful to everyone.”
Jayceon aces that test with flying colors. He’s as friendly with his girl classmates as his boy buddies, and he always gets his work done.
“He’s an outstanding leader to everyone in here,” said his teacher, Christi Welch. “He has the manners of a saint. He’s an exceptional student. He is accepting of others, no matter what is happening. If someone is having a rough moment or anything, he takes the time to appreciate them and figure out how he can help, and he is respectful of everyone… He is just an awesome kid, well-deserving.”
He returned the compliments to Welch, the reigning E.O. Young Teacher of the Year that also taught Jayceon last year as a first grader.
“She’s a great teacher,” Jayceon said. “She’s funny.”
Jayceon said he likes learning math from Welch, particularly in classroom scavenger hunts, but also that she teaches he and his classmates about feelings, and that it’s OK to have feelings.
Every E.O. Young classroom holds a “morning meeting” each day with a focus on emotional wellbeing, which can help students become more adaptable and flexible. If something doesn’t go Jayceon’s way in the classroom, for example, he’s not likely to lose his composure.
Jayceon is a talented football and basketball player, too, but humble about his ability. If he makes a shot, McKoon has noted as a fill-in P.E. teacher, Jayceon doesn’t get hung up on celebrating it or rubbing it in someone’s face.
McKoon credits Jayceon’s family for instilling positive values like those. That starts with his mother Tonya Seward, who her son cited as his inspiration. Every morning, she gives him a hug before school and wishes him a good day.
“He just has a really positive attitude about everything,” McKoon said. “When he gets into school, he smiles. When he gets his breakfast, he says thank you. He has been raised by a caring family that has taught him to love himself and I think that when you love yourself, you have the ability to love everybody else. And I think that’s what makes a champion stand out is just the way they’re confident in who they are, so they can celebrate other people.”
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