When I told my dad – a career educator himself – that I was going into education, he paused and then clapped me on the shoulder and told me how proud he was, and that there is no more honorable or more meaningful profession. Some time later I overheard him talking with one of his colleagues about that conversation. He told his colleague that his first reaction was similar to any parent’s feeling when they see something barreling towards their child – push them out of the way. He thought about all of the challenges that he faced in his career and those he could anticipate me facing in my career. That ran through his head during the pause. The second reaction was the one he expressed out loud: Education is the most honorable and meaningful profession. Today more than at any time (except tomorrow), we need committed, passionate people serving children and families in increasingly difficult situations. As I reflect on our kids, I am frequently struck by the thought that for many we are not only their best chance, we are their only chance. This holds true regardless of their social or economic situations. The impact of teachers and school support people (everyone other than teachers) makes a difference, and sometimes all the difference, in the lives of the children. I don’t say this in a fearful way, although the responsibility is awesome, but to reflect my true conviction that we work in the most honorable, meaningful and challenging of professions – shoulder to shoulder with the most honorable and committed of colleagues. I thank you sincerely for being part of the Granite team in whatever your role may be.
Having said all that, I am so proud of my oldest four children who work in public education – three teachers and one in a support position. I understand better my father’s pause, but wouldn’t have them doing anything else. It is heartening as well to think that their co-workers are again, the most honorable and committed people around. In whatever point we may be in our careers, let us offer encouraging and helping hands, cheerfully passing on what we know to the generations who will replace us.
I don’t know about all of you, but summer was winding down and I blinked and it’s already the end of December. On the other hand this year has dragged slowly on from one challenge to the next. I’m hopeful that we can all have a significant break where we can rest up and get ready for the charge through the winter and into spring. I’m hopeful that we get lots of snow over the break so the kids who spray paint on our schools leave footprints we can follow back to their houses. I’m hopeful that it doesn’t get so cold that pipes break and classrooms flood. I’m hopeful that the many, many kids whose warm and regular meals come only at school have enough to eat and I’m grateful for so many generous people who are thoughtfully sending those kids home with meals for the break.
In my home we celebrate Christmas and so personally from my family to you, I wish Merry Christmas. In addition to other celebrations or commemorations over the next few weeks, I wish everyone happy holidays and a happy new year!