Integrity in the Face of Adversity


Mrs. Poth, Teacher

The quote by Heraclitus, “The only constant in life is change,” has probably never been truer than in the year 2020. The quick change in March to online learning and the summer-long preparations to transition back in the fall had all of our heads spinning. Trying to teach an old fart like me how to step up my technology game has not been an easy task. (Side note: shout out to the tech department who has had to help me on almost a daily basis.)  And the students haven’t had it easy either … trying to learn new platforms and procedures for each of their teachers. With online testing becoming normal, the ease of cheating presents itself as a challenge we all must consider.

Life presents an endless series of decisions that often require you to make difficult choices. One of the most critical factors in making decisions is your personal beliefs and values. Values are the meaningful principles and behaviors that are important to you, guide your behavior and help you persevere through adversity. When you live by your values, you feel better about yourself and are ultimately able to reach a greater fulfillment in life. Do you know what your values are? Could you make a list of five values that are important to you? If not, there is a chance that your decisions are likely influenced by the thoughts of the people around you, be it family, friends, the culture or perhaps your social media. Research shows that by writing down your values, you are more likely to take healthier actions and stand by your beliefs. Your values reveal who you are and build your character as you act upon them.

Now throw in the complex world in which we live where things are constantly changing. As we face the challenges of living through a pandemic, it is easy to feel the stress and pressure of succeeding. This has certainly been a time that has tested our will and spirit. During hard times, the decisions you make will not only affect you but many people around you. Even when we feel confident about our personal beliefs and how we want to live, it seems like situations are forcing us to make decisions that go against our values. As a result of all of the additional stresses, along with assessments being online, the temptations and opportunities for students to violate their academic integrity have increased.

Integrity is the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles. At face value, this may look simple. However, our ability to rationalize behavior tends to make practicing integrity much more difficult. If asked, most students would say that cheating is wrong. But studies suggest that 95% of students admit to having engaged in some form of cheating. We’ve all heard different excuses: “everyone does it” or “I have to get a good grade or it will affect my GPA” and even “the teacher doesn’t do a good job teaching the material so I have to google the answers.” People may tell themselves these very compelling stories in order to justify their actions, but they are essentially lying to themselves so that they can still consider themselves to be honest. A person with integrity is one who aligns his actions with his beliefs, as he consistently maintains ethical standards and navigates to keep on the right path. A person whose actions are not consistent with his principles or is intentionally trying to deceive is known as a hypocrite.


Integrity is particularly important during times of adversity when fear and uncertainty can permeate our lives. Our words and actions will have a big impact on the trust and reputation that will remain long after the crisis. It is likely that the cheating won’t suddenly stop when the classroom returns to normal. The problem is that little things become big things and cheating can become habitual. Cheating now makes cheating later easier to do. But in the same respect, if you maintain your integrity now, maintaining it later also becomes easier. Keeping yourself off of cheating’s ethical slippery slope will help you develop good habits to apply in the future. Proverbs 11:3 says, “Integrity of the upright guides them”… so, ask yourself today “am I a person of integrity?” You have been given a great opportunity to have a Priory education; prove to yourself, your family, and the world that you can build successes by your own accord. Be a man of integrity!