"I have always imagined that Paradise will be some kind of library." ~ Jorge Luis Borges

Sunday, October 28, 2012

On community

One of my favorite images from the Sharon Creech visit was seeing my principal, move about the auditorium, up and down the aisles, microphone in hand, passing it to the next student with a question. He called it his Phil Donahue moment. 

For me, it was another
Mark moment.  I think my principal is awesome, that's not to say he's perfect, but he's a wonderful person and a great leader.  His leadership has helped create a tight knit community of educators, but not just educators coming together with a common goal of helping students learn, we're a community, period.  We challenge, support, celebrate and encourage each other as individuals and teachers. 

Our September faculty meeting this year marked a very important milestone for Mark and our small community
- Mark announced that he is five years cancer free. 

Mark's leadership was the same before as it was after his diagnosis, but there is no doubt it has shaped those of us who have been here through it all.  The cake we celebrated his five year anniversary was as sweet as the sound of his message.  Here's the story I wrote for Mark at the time of his cancer. (I have all these great illustrations in my head, but lack the skills to produce them, so you will have to create your own mental images.) 

Mr. Springer’s Hats
Jennifer Kelley Reed
This is Mr. Springer. 
He’s a principal. 
He loves his students and his students love him. 

This is Mr. Springer reading to some students. Mr. Springer loves to read.

Did you notice Mr. Springer’s tie? Like many elementary school principals, Mr. Springer likes to wear fun ties. 

Recently, his doctor told Mr. Springer that he had cancer.  Mr. Springer’s doctor told him it was a very curable type of cancer, but that the medicine he would take would make his hair fall out. 

Mr. Springer did some thinking. 

He thought about the students in his school, he thought about his hair falling out, and he thought about how his students would feel when they saw him with no hair.

He thought about his ties. 

He had an idea.  Maybe he could wear a fun hat just like he wore fun ties.

Mr. Springer tried on many types of hats trying to find the right one. 

Finally, he did find just the right one.  Mr. Springer is a Red Sox fan.

At the next school assembly, Mr. Springer had a special announcement for the students. 

He told them that for the rest of the school year, every day would be hat day! 

Mr. Springer felt that if he could wear a hat to school every day while he was going through his cancer treatment then the students should be able to also.  Mr. Springer told the students that they didn’t have to wear a hat but if they wanted to they could. 

He had some rules about hats though: no teasing and no bullying about hats that students chose to wear and no using them to distract from learning.

Mr. Springer cut his hair short and then shorter and began wearing hats to school sometimes.  Many students also wore hats to school, to show their support for Mr. Springer. 

A few weeks later, Mr. Springer shaved his head and began wearing a hat every day. 

The only problem was it was the same hat, every day! 

The students loved Mr. Springer’s Red Sox hat, but they thought it was boring wearing the same hat to school every day. 

The students thought about Mr. Springer. They thought about his hat.  They thought about his ties.  

They had an idea. 

At the next school assembly, the students had a special announcement. 

They told Mr. Springer that since every day was hat day, he should have a hat for every day!  That day, the following day, and for many days after that for the rest of the school year, Mr. Springer was given a hat. 

Some were old, some were new, some were borrowed and some were blue.

Sometimes, the hat was from a far away place and sometimes it was from very nearby. 

Regardless of their condition, style or sports affiliation, Mr. Springer loved all of his hats.

This is Mr. Springer. 
He is a principal. 
He loves his students and his students love him.

Hats off to Mr. Springer!

On this stormy day, I'm feeling thankful for my school community and for all my communities and the people in them who challenge, support, and encourage me.


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