Wednesday, January 13, 2010

On The Surface

On the surface everything seems right
No one notices the dimness of the light
For the world outside our door our smiles are oh so bright
On the surface everything's all right

I am certainly guilty of being one of those (sometimes annoying) chaps who stubbornly prefer the world to be all rainbows and flowers.

Hopelessly optimistic, I choose to see the good in each situation or at least strive to maintain an upbeat attitude.

However, this week my rose colored glasses sat askew when it was announced that our (my!) beloved principal would be leaving us.

As our school community sat in stunned amazement at this pronouncement, I was rendered utterly speechless.

Imagine that.

Nothing happening in my mind but a blankness that was filled with utter chaos.

How do I process this information?

Professionally, she has transformed our school by shepherding an undying belief in those she works with - not who work for her, but with her to achieve what is best for our students.

Always supportive. Ever contemplative. Forever willing to listen, to bend when necessary and to stick to her guns with fierce determination when faced with unacceptable bullshit or questionable integrity.

In this climate of teaching to the test rather than teaching to the needs of the child, where educators bemoan the sorry state of their schools, the leadership, the lack of support from their principal, I sit among all of this thinking "Wow! I have none of these extraneous issues".

My first strong memory of my principal is set back in the early days of my career. I was new to teaching and on top of that I was teaching in my second language so I was still a bit wobbly on my fledgling legs. As I sat with my class to do a read aloud of Goldilocks and the Three Bears in American Sign Language (ASL), she walked in and sat right on down on the floor with the rest of us. Her supportive smile instantly set me at ease. It was the beginning of an enchanted working relationship.

Personally, I am forever indebted to her for championing me in the pursuit of my academic endeavours. There are too many instances to mention but each one is remembered and for each one I am grateful.

I feel like I am saying farewell to a friend. I guess because I kinda am. She will stay in my life but it'll never be the same.

We are told that change is good. And perhaps that is true. On the surface we are all going about our business of teaching our precious children but underneath each of us is grappling with this news.

Best of luck to our divine Ms. M! You will be missed indeed.


mouse (aka kimy) said...

sorry to hear that your principal will be leaving...the loss of a good boss is a big blow!

wonderful personal and meaningful take on TT!

Brian Miller said...

what a neat story and a hard loss. i have a boss like that who lives in texas now, that changed the course of my life with her encouragement and challenge. we still talk every couple months.

willow said...

A wonderful tribute to the divine Ms. M. Hope her successor can fill her shoes.

Poetikat said...

I love Roseanne Cash.

It's a shame you're losing a good boss; they are certainly hard to come by. Fingers crossed your next one will be good too.

Joy Keaton said...

I know you were so stunned the other day when you heard this news, but in spite of that it sounds like you're regrouping and coming back to that upbeat optimistic nut we all love. ;)

Anonymous said...

Now THAT is a woman of substance!

Wings said...

Great take on the theme, to honor someone important to you! Sorry you are losing her, but remember Dr. Seuss! Don't be sorry it's over, be happy that it happened. Or something like that. :)

Stephanie said...

What a nice tribute to your principal.

Skip Simpson said...

She sounds like the kind of boss people would die to have. Sorry to hear she's leaving.

Dumdad said...

"Hopelessly optimistic, I choose to see the good in each situation"

And long may you continue to do so; there are too many gloomy pessimists among us.

Lovely tribute to a departing boss.

JeffScape said...

From your profile and the general mood of your posts, it's easy to see how and why you are optimistic. There's a gravity to people who are that way, and for obvious reasons.

Right on.

The Clever Pup said...

Nice tribute from a nice guy.

Tom said...

hopefully she'll leave a bit of herself behind

Mmm said...

What lovely tribute adn post Gary. I'm glad the world has people like yo. It may be annoying to some but it is what we all need.

Lizzie said...

Gary, I just stumbled across your blog and absolutely love it. Where have I been? Love your TT post. :)

Barbara said...

It's so hard to give up a mentor and supporter like that. I'm hopeful her replacement will recognize the quality work you are doing and give you his/her blessing to continue!

Meanwhile, just be glad Ms. M is still in your life in another capacity.

Baino said...

Aww thats so sad when people move on or retire. I'm losing a much loved colleague in February. At least she's set the standard and whoever replaces her has a high bar to reach. However, good bosses are hard to find these days so I wish you luck.

William Manson © 2010 said...

great story Gary with real colorful images, yes its always sad when a friend leaves, good story glad to see you back..

Gary said...

Mouse - TT is such a fantastic idea. Not only does it provide some structure while allowing for creativity but it is kinda nice to get feedback from others in the blogosphere. Anyway, the news is sinking in, it is amazing how much we can accept with a little time to digest it.

Brian - I am hoping for that kind of contact. Encouragement and challenge are both wonderful things. I have counted on my principal for ongoing support with my doctoral studies and now have to refigure that input.

Willow - We have a fantastic man stepping in to 'fill her shoes' as an interim measure but there is the long process of finding our new principal. Hopefully, s/he will be a good fit.

Poetikat - Because of this post I have rediscovered Rosanne. I love her music, her passion, her pain, her ponderings. Thanks for reading.

Joy - Ahhh, I love you too!

Mistress - Indeed!

Wings - Of course, Dr. Seuss. The good Dr. has a fitting quote for every situation.

Stephanie - I do what I can. :)

Skip - You and me both. Onwards and upwards I suppose.

Dumdad - I take it that you are an optimist as well (as long as you steer clear of the conkers).

Jeff - How nice. Thank you.

Pup - Things like this are very easy to write. I have been blessed with being surrounded by wonderful folks.

Tom - I think her influence will carry us through for many years. I just hope that the next principal respects all that we have worked so hard to achieve.

Mmmm - Yes, those sunny, happy people are a bit much sometimes. I balance mine with a bit of drama every now and again to keep the edge on. ;)

Lizzie - Yippee. So glad you stumbled here and thank you so much for these kind words. I will be visiting yours as well.

Barbara - I am hoping that as well. It is amazing to realize how much influence a principal has over the mood/feel of a school. It can make the experience either a joy or a chore. Let's hope for more joy.

Baino - It is difficult. Best of luck to you as well.

William - Thanks. I see these moments so clearly in my mind so I am happy that they translate somewhat in this little post. Blog writing is an interesting format isn't it.

Poetikat said...

Gary - If you get the chance, watch the Elvis Costello "Spectacle" series of interviews with musicians, filmed in Toronto. Roseannne is on one of the editions with Norah Jones, Kris Kristofferson and John Mellencamp. Really excellent series!
Will be following you henceforth!

California Girl said...

I've had two mentors who meant the world to me. The amazing thing is, I had them back to back but working for different radio stations during the beginning and defining days of my career in broadcast sales. My first mentor was the most supportive and best teacher I ever had. I worked with hiim for 2 years. When our parent co, Westinghouse, asked him to take on an assignment in Houston, he had to go. I worked in San Diego. I never lost touch with him and it was key. Not long after he left, I met my second mentor. I had moved to Virginia to reunite with my ex husband. She sought me out, through referrals and I went to work for her. Our relationship lasted 6 years. Interestingly enough, I was contacted by my first mentor to come to work for him after he took over his third station in Chicago. I went for the interviews but didn't accept the job. Point is, stay in touch and never lose sight that your paths may again cross in ways you cannot forsee.

Gary said...

Poet - I will def check this out. I have seen Roseann in concert several times and was never disappointed. And, thanks for following. I love it!

California Girl - Thank you, thank you, thank you for taking the time to share this story with me. It is a great reminder that we never know where life is going to take us and that good things may be just around the corner. It is a message that I needed to hear again.

lettuce said...

that is a blow Gary.
It sounds as though she's worked in a way which has made her not indispensable, the way good leaders and managers should - empowering not overpowering.
I hope her successor will be a good appointment and continue that.

rebecca347 said...

Gary, my dear friend,
You never stop amazing me. It has been an honor to work with you. Thank you so much for your kind words. (although I don't know I've ever been called Miss M before). It has been such a joy to work with you. I am humbled every time I visit your classroom. You and your team teacher have made a wonderful place, filled with love, respect, lots of fun and a rigorous academic experience for your students. Being a principal is a weird place to live - it can be very lonely - but because I was so lucky to work with you and the other amazing grown-ups and kids, I adored every moment. Now that I am moving on to a quieter life, I would absolutely love to spend some quality time with you. I am not moving to another universe - it would mean so much to me to continue our talks. I have learned so much from you - I hope I haven't broken the rules of the blog-o-sphere by reading your blog. You have made my day today, as you so often has done in the past. Thank you for such a lovely post.
With great respect for the work you do every day,
Miss M.

Gary said...

Rebecca - haha, that divine Ms. M thing just came to me because I was trying not to use your name. And yes, yes, yes I so look forward to this new dimension in our relationship but I am struggling with the loss. it is difficult to imagine how things will play out. You can cerainly bet though that I will be in need of your advice, knowledge and wisdom as I continue on my journey.

I hope you do keep reading the blog. :)

WAT said...

Those are some kind words about the boss lady man.

Wish I could say the same for mine, but how fortunate you at least had her around as long as you did. Alas, all good and BAD things must come to an end.

Sebastien said...

I am so sorry to hear that she is leaving. I hope someone will be found who brings many wonderful qualities and is able to share charisma and kindness like it sounds she did.


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