When I taught in the classroom (2000-2004), I don't remember the week being as much of a success or priority in the school where I worked so I never became super attached to it or knew that it should even be a big deal. So, when returning to education as a teaching assistant last year in the suburb we live in and now this year working in the city of Milwaukee, I realize some things had changed on the 'inside'. Where parents in many districts step up and direct most of this celebration, the leadership does take time out to honor and encourage its staff - at least the wise leaders do.
At our school this during this week, we had something everyday but all of the surprises and encouragements came from our leadership team. Flowers, hot breakfast, signs from the kids, special desserts at lunch and an appreciation video directed and edited by my filmmaker son. They were so grateful.
If you don't know, teachers really are the single most effective person in the classroom. A teacher that learns and grows as they teach and develop can grow kids like nobody's business. We need them and as educational leaders, we know that our time must be invested in them having the support and resources that they need, so they absolutely deserve a week. But...
I had to admit that when Principal's Day came along and the kids celebrated and made posters and songs for her, I felt a little slighted. I know, I know - grow up right? But, I wanted to see that my staff and students appreciated and saw the value of the work and dedication that I bring to the job but did not believe it would be appropriate to ask. And then it happens...
Our principal created a "Food Appreciation Staff Day" and then a "Director of Operations Day" and sent out emails inviting us to donate money towards the purchase of a small gift, to write cards and have kids make cards and do small but thoughtful things and I knew there had to be a day for me too. When? I wasn't sure, but was so glad.
So, it came on Wednesday, June 5th, the same day my son turned 14 years old and it couldn't have been more perfectly timed. Though busy, it was a day where I was able to sit down twice (very RARE), had many, many tight hugs and warm, sincere smiles and received cards from the staff encouraging me in my work and development of the school. One of the best gifts? Reese's Peanut Butter Candies, 4 different variations. So good.
Only 10 days from finishing my first year in educational leadership as a dean of students (like a vice-principal) and I am so thankful for the encouragement and small marker of success in my career. It has been surprising the things I've learned from our staff, students, families and being a part of the HOPE family but mostly, I am so thankful for what God has shown me about His love for me and what He believes that I can do while being me.
I have signed on to serve in this role again this next school year and am eager to help our school build on what we've already been blessed to see and go beyond it towards doing even more for our children. Easy? Certainly not. Enjoyable? Most days. Rewarding? Absolutely.