As the first day of school approached this year, I couldn’t help but think of the last day back in June. My daughter’s science teacher, Mr. Fink, called me at home at 9:30 that night. When summer was supposed to begin for teachers and students, this teacher was calling to let me know that my kid improved, slightly, to a B+. But what he really wanted to share was his appreciation in how she had taken some “at-risk” friends under her wing and he watched them improve socially and academically because of her example and encouragement. We knew she’d spoken of various kids we don’t know, but didn’t realize that she was spending her days coaching, mentoring, and being a friend to help them find their potential from apparently less fortunate circumstances…and apparently it helped.
This teacher didn’t have to make that call to us. We’d have eventually seen the report card, been happy with a B+, and not had this reason to be overjoyed with pride that our kid was becoming the servant leader we have tried to raise. Because he took the time, because he noticed this thing that can’t be graded, I felt a renewed sense of my own purpose to learn and serve.
As this first week of school ended, this memory came back to me and I reflected on the staff and kids in our building. I have confidence that each of my staff would notice the same details of our students and care just as much to share it. I have confidence that we will pursue academic improvement this year, but we won’t get caught up only in grades and things we can count, but in caring for each other and our kids.
For the first time in years, when I walked out of the empty building on Friday afternoon, I felt energized that I get to work in a place, and with people, I love and who I really feel care for me and all my kids. That can’t be graded.