January 15, 2018
We are a complicated puzzle of people.
I went to the funeral today for a colleague from my previous school who was taken from this earth suddenly and too soon. Barbi worked in the main office. Her smile was bright and it was as if sunshine radiated from her eyes. Her job was to greet children each morning, to work in the office taking care of children’s ailments, and to answer the phones. She was at the school for five years before she suddenly died earlier this week.
As her own children eulogized her today, they talked about the school, how proud she was to be a part of it and how happy it made her. It got me thinking about the role a school plays in the lives of those involved. A school is a unique organization. The collective purpose of educating children and preparing the next generation to work on making our world a better place is compelling. When people become connected to a school it becomes a part of them — they tend to live it and breathe it.
As I wrote in December, Paul Penna DJDS now feels like home to me. The people and the mission drive me to bring out the best in each person and offer the richest of experiences to the children and faculty. But I know I am not the only one. The faculty at Paul Penna DJDS feel connected to each other and support each other as family does, but they also feel connected to the mission and vision of the school and feel invested in its journey.
The culture we have created is one where everyone feels important and valued and intrinsic to the puzzle – and it is our truth. This is our story; it is who we are. In our deliberately small school each person – each faculty, staff, child and family member – is needed and important. In being needed, people feel special and feel a deep connection to the school. What I realized is that the energy is bidirectional. As much as each person is uniquely important to the school, the school is uniquely important to each person. This is very true at Paul Penna DJDS. People feel special and privileged to be connected to our school – I know I do.
What became clear to me today, as I thought about Barbi, was how impactful a school can be on people. Without even knowing it, we can be the central place in a person’s or a family’s life – and so we should ensure we treat everyone like they are as special to us, as we are to them. It is hard to know in any moment the impact one person will have on another, but if we live each day being mindful that it should be a memorable one, what might we do differently?
As I set intentions for how I want to be in school, I know that being present is at the top of my list. I want to be part of the learning each day and ensure that the people in our community know they are important and valued, and that we are happy to have them in our family. You never know the power that message can have on an individual. That is what Barbi taught me – and for that I am grateful.