Sunday, December 20, 2015

It Is About Gratitude

This past Friday afternoon, I was in my office when Mike Martin invited me to join him in the MHS auditorium.  It was unexpected - he came to my doorway and with a little bit of a smile on his face, asked me to come down to the auditorium.  When I asked what this was all about, he couldn't exactly answer my question.  Instead, he just insisted that I join him.

There was an assembly going on in the auditorium and by the time we got there, all of MHS was already there, students, faculty and staff.  There were a handful of students from the Student Council on the stage and they began speaking shortly after we arrived.  The students started speaking about gratitude and recognizing the work of people who serve MHS but are regularly overlooked for the work they do.

While sitting in the audience, I wondered who the students had in mind.  They spoke meaningfully about upgrades to the wireless network, the capacity expansion that allows more devices to be connected, and the efforts that are consistently made to serve the students, faculty and staff of MHS.  A few moments later, Russell Leete and Lucas Johnson were standing on the stage, to thunderous applause.  Russell and Lucas are our Technology Support Specialists.  Shortly after that, Mike Martin and Sue Monmaney were also called to the stage and the result was a standing ovation.  Both Sue and Mike have worked, along with the entire Technology Team in MPS, to grow our network to meet the demands of curriculum and technology.

Shortly after the assembly was over, I approached Myles Chater, the advisor of the Student Council at MHS and expressed how impressed I was with the choice and the assembly.  I was even more impressed with what he said next: "It all came from the students.  I didn't do anything except buy a couple of gift cards and set up the assembly."  It all came from the students...

It really is all about gratitude and our students are teaching us again.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

A Walk with My Son

It's been unseasonably warm in Vermont these past several weeks.  Candidly, I would expect to have already seen snow by this time of the year.  That said, since it's been so nice, our family has spent more time outside, going on hikes.  This past weekend, we went to Five Tree Hill and hiked to the overlook together.  On the way back, our youngest son Brendan and I ended up at the back and as we took our time getting back to the car, I had a chance to talk to him by myself.  

I let him lead the conversation and he immediately started talking about next year when he will be a third grader.  We talked about what was important to him in a third grade teacher and a third grade class.  As I listened, Brendan told me he'd like a class with third and fourth graders.  Why?  "Daddy, I can make more friends if there are fourth graders in the class!"

For the rest of our walk Saturday afternoon, I asked Brendan questions and just listened to his thoughts.  I learned that he would rather have a male third grade teacher than have a class full of third and fourth graders.  He told me about the friends that meant a lot to him, the ones he hopes to have in his class next year, and the ones that he wants to have on his basketball team this season.  

I learned so much during the 45 minute walk back to our car, as the last two together on our hike.  I make time for our children almost every day and still I learned so much about our youngest child on Saturday afternoon.  The freedom of the walk, with no time constraints, gave me a window into the world of Brendan Watson Ricca.  And I am a better daddy because of it.  

I don't expect that we will always have this opportunity as parents or educators.  I do know however, that if we get even the slightest hint of a chance of something like this, we need to jump to these moments and savor every second.  I almost missed my chance on Saturday by looking ahead to see where we were going on the trail and trying to be in front.  What a loss that would have been for me.  

Whether they are in your classrooms or in your homes, take their hand, ask questions and listen.  Go for a walk and celebrate the little things that make the children in your life special.  I promise you won't forget it... ever.