As a superintendent, I make sure that I have opportunities to interact with students. I visit classrooms weekly, I have students who stop by my office, I attend extra-curricular and sporting events. What I don’t get much of is one on one time, working with a student who is struggling through an issue or two. Listening to a kid and then trying to be a positive influence.
I was reminded this week of one of the primary reasons I moved into education in the first place. As a teacher at Pine Valley Central, way back in 1990, I recognized that some of our students, particularly the girls, didn’t always see a future. I knew I needed to be a woman that they could look to and think, “If Mrs. Moritz can do it, I can”. I knew even then that some girls just need to see that it is possible to stand on your own two feet, strong and independent, and happy.
Throughout my career, I’ve had the incredible opportunity to work with a great number of students. I’m consumed when I spend time with someone in whom I see so much strength because of the life experiences she’s already had but so little hope. A kid who just can’t see a way out of everything that surrounds her, despite the fact that she knows she wants out, and can’t figure out how to get there. A kid with brains and strength and fire, but no one to reach over and give her a hand up.
If we do nothing else right in our daily walk with the students at Randolph, this is what we must get right. Each of us, in our individual roles of teacher, bus driver, secretary, administrator, teaching aide, cafeteria worker or cleaner, must look for those opportunities to give a kid a hand up. To be the positive influence that he’s lacking anywhere else, to show her that it is possible to be a happy, fully functioning adult. Because maybe this is the only place the kid gets to see it.
If we don’t notice that child or at least acknowledge that maybe she’s behaving so badly because everyone else in her life behaves just that way too and it’s up to us to show her another way-–to help her find hope, it’ll be as if we did nothing here.
Show our students through kindness and understanding and compassion and love and expectations. Show them that even if they don’t believe in themselves, we are going to believe enough for all of us.
I don’t get enough chance to do this any more. I’m too immersed in budgets and negotiations and contracts and the business of school, tasks I didn’t even think about before taking the job. I’m not complaining. I just need to know you’re all out there taking care of our kids, each and every day, all of them. Especially the hardest ones–they need us the most.
Thank you to each of you who knows what I’m talking about, for every parent in the community who reaches out to someone else’s kid too. Thank you for showing our students what it is to be an adult who has expectations for himself, who’s dedicated, successful, happy and who’s not so different from that child.