American flag in elementary school classroomDear Karen*,
It's been a while, hasn't it? 8 years ago this spring I was preparing to leave our elementary school. I think the feeling was mutual. I wouldn't return. Neither of us was unhappy.
Working for you wasn't easy. Actually, working for you was one of the hardest things I've ever done. You demanded a lot of your teachers. 8 years later, I try to look at it through your eyes... that you were looking to get even more from us, all the time. That not finding perfection (or satisfaction) might have been a good thing for us. You pushed us. Sadly, you pushed some of us over the edge.
We had our laughs and smiles. But, overall, our relationship wasn't a good one. You brought more tears to my eyes, more nightmares in my sleep than a person should ever experience in her career.
Eight years later, I'm confident, once again, that I'm a great educator. I know I have qualities that make a fantastic teacher. I know that a lot of my talents are my own, but admit that some are from your encouragement and your pushes.
Now that I'm a parent, I thank you.
I thank you for showing me what a dream a school and its staff can be. I thank you for educating me, before I became a parent, to recognize, search out and expect fairness in education. I appreciate the hours you spent welcoming the families to your school.
Karen, you knew every name of every child, every parent, every sibling. You truly cared. There was no failure in your school, you wouldn't allow for it. There were no questions unanswered; no phone calls, unreturned. Parent volunteers weren't just encouraged, they were expected. And opportunities were created for more involvement to grow your community.
Most important, as a parent who was a teacher in one of your schools, I learned what a school and a child's education can and should be. I learned that parents shouldn't be afraid to ask questions, seek out answers, expect what's appropriate and best for each child and not just sit around, waiting for a new atmosphere the following year. I learned that I am my child's best advocate. I learned that I can and should expect differentiation in the classroom for every student. I learned that children, every child, will struggle with something... and that's okay. I learned that children, every child, will achieve.
Karen, we had our troubles in our a teacher/principal relationship. But I thank you for making me a better parent.
*Not her real name
Julie Meyers Pron is a Shine! Parenting Guru and a member of the Y! Mother Board. She blogs daily at Just Precious about organization, fashion, parenting and education... and anything else she feels like chatting about. Follow Julie on twitter and fan her on Facebook. Love what she's writing? Subscribe to her RSS feed.
Image credit to Craig Allen.