At the end of June, I brought greetings to the St. Mary’s Graduating Class of 2013. The evening held a little bit of nostagia for me as this graduating class, was in kindergarten during my last year as a principal. So in essence, this was my last class. Although I’ve coached since then, both in school and club teams, this was the last time I had direct contact with students in a teaching setting.
Some of the students were new to the school, others were barely recognizable due to how much they had changed and some I knew well because of a connection with their parents. Regardless, it was still a shock to see how much each of these students had grown from their first year in kindergarten and my last year as principal. It was also a stark reminder that I’ve been out of the classroom full time since the end of June 2001. For all of my fellow superintendents and other central office personnel, this is a fact of our jobs! We no longer have the day to day contact with students yet, we must stay connected to the current classroom while still influencing the future of schooling. It is like being on the dance floor and the balcony simultaneously!
This stark recognition that I no longer had any more of my students in the system led me to ponder my own journey since entering senior administration. Unfortunately, my role as superintendent took me out of the coaching ranks four years ago. Although it is not the same as being in the classroom, it did provide me with a much needed “kid fix.” My last class reminded me that I need to remain student focused and not lose touch with this generation of learners, both students and teachers. As a central office person, I can ill afford to become less connected- it does the system no good! And, I cannot lose the passion to be with students. The day that I do not still yearn to be back in the classroom is the day that I should retire from this profession!
I love the opportunity to interact with students and senior administration should always look for ways to be in the schools with students. Some of my fondest memories of this past year were sitting with students in the hallways, lunchrooms or classrooms and just “shooting the breeze.” Listening to students assists me in gaining a better perspective of what is needed in our schools today. It allows me to understand what the classroom looks like and feels like from the student’s point of view. Without that perspective, my days of an educational leader should probably align with my last class and I should retire and I’m not nearly ready for that!