Every year that I’ve spent as an educator has been a journey of discovery. Some years I discovered more than other years. Some years I grew deeply in my understanding of content, some years I grew as a leader, but this year is different. This year I feel like I am able to take a step back and see the big picture all while noticing how small day-to-day interactions with children make a huge impact. I can see the impact of educators everywhere I turn. This week, I noticed the impact in my own home!
On Wednesday we were eating dinner, as usual. My boys, who usually don’t have much to say about school except for their very detailed recaps of the happenings at recess and PE; both were enthusiastically sharing all of the details of Mr. Ford’s impending retirement. I mean they could barely keep from talking over each other. I was trying to follow their story that went something like this “Mr. Ford is RETIRING! He is going to spend his time working on a farm! I wish he would wait until the end of the year. Why do people retire? Why doesn’t he want to come to school anymore. He loves school…” I was a little embarrassed to have to ask, but I wasn’t sure who Mr. Ford was. The boys stopped dead in their tracks when I asked and both said, “THE JANITOR!” This was followed by, “He the nicest person at school! Yeah, he is funny and he jokes with us.” My 5th grade son, Rocco said, “He calls me Taco and I call him Bob. And, mom, I’m NOT being disrespectful, it’s our inside joke.” Gino chimed in with, “He always waves to me. He really likes me.” This conversation made my heart sing. Not only, is it so comforting to know that the adults at school make meaningful connections with my kids, but I also loved the fact they my kids respected and appreciated the custodian. So, I said, “Boys we should get him a retirement gift. When is his last day?” Of course I wasn’t expecting the answer to this questions to be, TOMORROW, but as luck would have it, that was exactly their response. So, instead of a gift from a store, my boys each made a card for Mr. Ford and I think there words are better than any gift I could have purchased from a store.
There are so many "Mr. Fords" in schools everywhere. To each and every one of you, I say, thank you! Thank you for enjoying children, thank you for making a connection with them, thank you for being a smiling face that they get to see every day. Whether you are a custodian, secretary, bus driver, cafeteria employee, teacher, or librarian every little interaction you have with children makes an impact.
To the real Mr. Ford, thank you for being who you are. Thank you for loving your job and making my children happy each day. Enjoy your retirement and I hope you know that your impact will last a lifetime.
I hope my blog posts inspire risk taking and new ways of thinking. I hope to connect with other educators on our journey to always do what's best for children.