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Wednesday, September 5, 2012

55 Septembers and the Question = Why?

I will turn sixty years old during this school year.

Since I began attending school in Kindergarten at age five, progressed through college immediately after graduating from high school, and thereupon embarked on an educational career that continues to this day - it means the opening of the 2012-13 school year will mark my fifty-fifth consecutive September in a school environment.

Unlike may jobs, education, although I work year-round, offers a calendar with a certain and distinct rhythm, complete with beginnings and interludes and ending with a crescendo. Whereas most positions of employment move steadily from day one to retirement in a continuous stream of endless day without any cycle, education provides a fresh start every September. It's an opportunity to begin again. New school clothes, new school supplies, new teachers, new classrooms, new friends, new possibilities...

It's that sense of optimism that emerges from the annual renewal that lifts my spirits and fuels my hopes. I am excited about greeting children tomorrow morning as they walk up the sidewalk on their approach to school. It's my attempt to welcome them with a comforting smile and personal acknowledgement as they begin another year. That experience is perhaps more rewarding to me than the kids who are anxious to pour inside the building and get started on creating the next chapter in their lives.  

Those two thoughts: so many Septembers and the prospect of ushering learners into their future, combined to make me consider why I remain engaged in educational leadership after such a long career. In reflecting on that subject, I was able to answer a vexing question that had lingered this summer and followed me like a long shadow. Several people in the area I grew up; friends, relatives, and even some staff members of the local school district, had asked me if I was applying for the superintendent's position when it becomes vacant this winter. I'll admit it was flattering and enticing.

But, the only reason I even considered that possibility as more than a fleeting thought was based on a movie-like story line of the little boy who went from the free lunch line at elementary school and grew up to become the leader of the entire school district. That would be intriguing - for one day. However, it wasn't a compelling motive and didn't prompt me to apply for the role. Thereafter, reality would set in. It wouldn't have been a good fit. Instead, what I found reaffirming and replenishing was the chance to make a positive difference in the lives of people from an arm's length rather than a distance measured by the miles that separate schools from one another in a larger school system.

I am proud of the school district where I spent thirteen years growing as an individual and forging a future. It was a great experience and it continues to be a very good school system. Whoever accepts the position will be fortunate.

I came to Green Island because it offered the chance to influence learners across all grade levels while regularly interacting with them. Larger districts have many benefits, but I didn't want to greet many of the learners for the first time when I hand them a diploma at graduation. I enjoy knowing all of our learners and feel confident that they know me as well.

I'm looking forward to another new school year - in Green Island.

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