What we do as school leaders can echo for eternity in the lives of our students, staff and school communities. That is the beauty of what we do. We serve in a profession where every day we are blessed with the opportunity to help change the course of someone’s life by our words, our actions and our belief in their ability to leave their mark on others and in their community. Everyone deserves the opportunity to be a part of something great and moreover, leave their legacy. That can only happen if we as school leaders are doing our part to cultivate an environment where students and staff are given permission to shift their thinking and are inspired to change their behavior in order to hear themselves echo these words; I can….. I know I can.
So often throughout the course of my career I have been moved to tears by the positive words and actions of others. This was the case again this past week. Several times I found myself in conversations either with a student, staff or parent who left me with watery eyes. The emotions that were triggered through these conversations, emails, notes, and cards reminded me again how much I love what I do and how grateful I am to be surrounded by such a caring staff, generous students, and grateful parents. When others recognize and value the hard work and the sacrifices one makes in order to create meaningful and positive experiences for others, you cannot help but feel a sense of joy for not only yourself but more importantly, for others.
This week I received the following letter below from a parent who wanted to thank some of my staff for their work with her son. I beamed with pride as I studied the words carefully.
Hello Mr. Casas
There are not enough words to tell Mr. N and Mr. L how grateful I am for everything they have done for my son in his transformation from a potential high school drop out to a GRADUATE. He was on a path to nowhere fast before he met Mr. N and Mr. L. A lot of people had given up on him and grouped him with the “friends” he was hanging out with at that time. But your staff saw what I saw; a great kid who was making bad decisions. A little more than a year after he met your team he was getting the Student’s 1st Award. That should say something about what an impact you all made on him. He really enjoyed telling his story at the banquet and inspiring underclassman who also seemed to be on the wrong path. His words reminded them of what they can achieve if they believe in themselves and are willing to change. I think this really inspired my son’s desire to become a counselor.
Now I know it was ultimately up to my son to change and to see what he was doing was leading him nowhere but I am positive that without Mr. N and Mr. L being the big brothers and mentors he needed and holding him accountable for his actions he would not be starting college in a few weeks. This whole transformation has not just impacted my son but impacted me also. I no longer had to fight to get him up in the morning to go to school. I went from dreading phone calls from school and wondering what trouble he was in now, to knowing it was Mr. N calling to tell me something positive about my son! I went from crying from frustration and feeling hopeless in the school meetings to crying from being so proud! My boy was on a mission to prove all the doubters wrong and he did!
I know Mr. N and Mr. L do not like to take credit for all that they did but I wanted to acknowledge them. I have personally told Mr. N thank you many times but I really wanted him and Mr. L to be recognized for what a great job they do every day with the students they work with. I am sure my son is not the only success story that will be coming from the work of these two teachers.
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!!
The impact of a simple letter bringing us to tears can seem almost remarkable, but not so much if you know the story behind the student. All students want to be recognized for something positive, but the same holds true for parents when it comes to how they want others to see their children.
And in the case of building leaders, the same can be said for our teachers. They also have a story to share and want to be viewed in a positive light. As school leaders, that’s on us to ensure they too, get the opportunity to leave their legacy.
By changing our perspective we can change lives. And that in turn echoes for eternity.