One of the joys of parenting, is learning from my children. Much like I expect to learn from my students professionally, I expect to learn from my own children.
Our oldest son Patrick and I were washing our hands in a bathroom recently. When we had finished and dried them, he went back to the paper towel dispenser, and gently pulled down the next paper towel. I asked him why he did that. His response: "So that the next person can really easily get their paper towel to dry their hands." He was very nonchalant about it, and while I was overwhelmed that he was being so thoughtful, for Patrick, it was just his way of being in the world.
It's a small way for Patrick to pay it forward, making the road easier and lighter for someone else. Even something as simple as readying the next paper towel for someone after they wash their hands. Such a small gesture has such a practical impact, with such a meaningful intention behind it.
This conversation prompted me to share with Patrick how early on in my superintendency, I relied on (and still do to this day) my colleagues around the state. One of the things that the Vermont Superintendents' Association prides itself on is our responsiveness to colleagues. When one reaches out for help, others are there to respond. I distinctly remember talking to a colleague around a particularly thorny issue in my first year and his perspective helped me find a solution. I was effusive in my gratitude and the only thing my colleague asked of me was to pay it forward. He wanted to make sure that when I got the opportunity to help out a fellow educational leader, I did so in the way that he helped me.
Today is Memorial Day, a day to remember all the men and women who have served our country, especially those who died. My life has been touched by those who chose to serve this country in the military and for that I am incredibly grateful. And while I do not wish to glorify war, I have a deep respect for those who have served and the families that supported them while they were away. The memories of those who served are kept alive by the hope of peace.
Perhaps peace is too much to ask or hope for right now. Maybe it's just making the road for others a little bit easier, one paper towel at a time. Take a minute this week to do that for someone else. Pay it forward.