January 24, 2017 By Scott Feraco
When I became a father I thought a lot about how to raise my son. Naturally I wanted him to get a good education and be successful. More importantly, I wanted him to be a good person.
Luckily, I discovered a book called The Family Virtues Guide. Acknowledging virtues in our children helps them recognize the essential “goodness” in themselves and others. Teaching my son virtues provided him with a moral compass to help guide him when choosing right from wrong, or good from bad. He’s no angel, but I’m happy to say that he has grown up to be a fine young man who exemplifies many of the virtues from A to Z.
Fate has led me to teach virtues to other children as well. When the advertising agency where I worked for several years lost a major client and was forced to close its doors, I earned my Commercial Driver’s License and got a job driving a school bus. Today, the kids who ride my bus call me “Mr. Scott.”
I enjoy driving a school bus, but it’s not always a smooth ride. Last year I was assigned Route #K572 in deep Brooklyn. The neighborhoods are tough, and so were some of my passengers. One afternoon, two young teens were on the verge of a fistfight right in front of me.
One kid shouted, “I’m gonna kick your a–!”
The other kid shouted back, “ I’m gonna F–k you up!”
From my driver’s seat, I barked like an alpha dog, “Stop! Right! Now!”
That got their attention.
Recognizing a teachable moment, I talked with them about how we can choose virtues to resolve conflicts. “No matter how angry we are, we can choose peacefulness over violence. We can choose tolerance when we feel ‘dissed. We can choose forgiveness, even when someone steps on our sneakers!”
Mr. Scott shows the “V” sign for virtues, to inspire kids to be the very best they can be.
Throughout the school year I conversed with the kids on the bus regularly about how we can all tap into our inner virtues to overcome adversity and achieve our personal goals. I shared relevant stories about how we can rise above negative influences and “be the goodness” we want to see in the world.
Bus #440 was more than transportation to and from school. It was a think tank where kids learned about the benefits of practicing virtues.
It was truly amazing to witness the transformation in kids’ attitudes and behavior when I took the time to recognize and acknowledge their intrinsic virtues. After a couple of months, the “tough” kids on bus #440 were practicing virtues like consideration, respect, unity and even courtesy.
“V for Virtues!” is what we all say, to make us better in each and every way.
Near the end of the year I wrote a few rhymes to honor their commitment to virtues. We made a video, which evolved into a mini-documentary about our experience together. It features a montage of the kids, and includes an interview with me, “Mr. Scott”, talking and rhyming, “Virtues everyday, make us better in each and every way.”
We watched the video on the last day of school. The kids laughed and said, “Yo, Mr. Scott, you can’t rap!”
I could tell they were touched and inspired. You will be, too.
Thank you for listening to, and watching, my story.
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Special thanks to The Family Virtues Guide, by Linda Kavelin Popov with Dr. Dan Popov Ph.D., and John Kavelin, and The Virtues Project, a global grassroots initiative to inspire the practice of virtues in everyday life.