Note from the Principal

IMG_3399Lower Lab Values Commitment

March 2019

 A Boy and a Jaguar

Written by Alan Rabinowitz and Illustrated by Catia Chien

Commitment is defined as the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity or person. A commitment obligates you to do something.  It is a promise or agreement.  Some commitments are large and long-lasting, like marriage.  Others can be smaller like volunteering to help at a bake sale or movie night.  The important thing to know about commitment is that it is something to take seriously. So, before you make a commitment think carefully, because you are promising to give your time and energy to that in which you believe.

A Boy and a Jaguar, a magnificently illustrated book, was chosen for its heartfelt depiction of a young boy who must overcome a disability to help the animals he loves, and to keep his promise to “be their voice and keep them from harm.”  It is a true story of a promise kept – a commitment made and not forgotten, as a boy grew to be a man.

The author, Alan Rabinowitz, suffered from stuttering, which frequently left him feeling lonely.  However, he loved animals and was inspired to protect wildlife. He dedicated his life to saving animals, and as an adult he became an important zoologist and conservationist. He also committed his time to helping other stutterers as a spokesperson for the Stuttering Foundation of America. He said, “stuttering was a gift, because it helped me find my passion – saving big cats!

This autobiographical book is sad, but it is also joyous and will certainly lead to rich conversations.  Some strong discussions around our value, commitment, may be yielded from the following:

  • What was stronger, the author’s commitment to stop stuttering or his commitment to help animals? How did each commitment help the other?
  • Do you remember a time when you made a commitment? What was it for?  Was it hard to keep your commitment?  Why or why not?
  • How did the boy’s parents model commitment to their son?
  • What other Lower Lab values might help you to keep a commitment? Explain your thinking.
  • Think of a commitment you made. What motivated you to make this commitment?
  • Why did the author whisper “thank you” to the jaguar at the end?

For older students:

  • What does it mean, Commitment is an act not a word? (Jean-Paul Sartre)
  • What is the difference between setting a goal and making a commitment?
  • Some people say when the going gets tough, the tough get going. Discuss.

Dr. Rabinowitz died last year.  He was called a Hero for Wild Cats.  If you would like to check out his organization, the website is


So I ask you, got commitment?

Sandy Miller 2018