Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Bird in the Hand

There was once a young man that wanted to prove himself smarter than his friend. Behind his back, he held a bird. He asked his friend if the bird was alive or dead. But you see, it did not matter what his friend answered because he was destined to be wrong. If the friend answered that the bird was dead, then the young boy was going to bring forth the live bird in his hand and prove his friend wrong. However, should the friend say that the bird was alive, then the young boy was going to break the bird's neck behind his back and again, show his friend that he was wrong.

This is a story told often by our Superintendent at the Back to School meeting for teachers in August and at graduation in June. It is the message that you control the year, or the life, ahead of you. Are you going to soar? Or are you going to crush the opportunity?

Tonight that same Superintendent held the bird behind his back as he was honored at a retirement party sponsored by the school board. He began his career in education as a Physical Education teacher and coach of many sports, then as assistant principal for the high school before serving as Superintendent for over the last decade.

He has worked in our school system for 45 years. I find that "significant" for two reasons. The first, think how much he has seen the face of education change in 45 years! Graduating from a segregated high school to running a fully integrated and high-achieving school district.

Secondly, I am in awe of working in the same field for that long, with the same specific employer. A couple of years ago, I was "inspired" to make a list of all the jobs I have held. From beginning at KFC at age 14 to entering the field of teaching at 32, I have held well over 50 jobs. It's not something that I used to give much thought to, but something that is unfathomable to me now. I am about to begin my 9th year of teaching (at the same high school). Prior to this, I'm pretty sure I never had a two-year anniversary at a job.

I'm not nearly as flippant about this as I used to be. I am glad that I fell into teaching when I did, only because I have so many more years ahead of me. The kids, and sometimes co-workers, will ask how long I plan on teaching at my high school. The question is odd to me. I don't think about leaving. I have gone through "bad times" at work, but they are just seasons, and seasons change. I was talking about this general topic with another teacher the morning of graduation as we "guarded" the doors. He said most mornings you get up and look forward to coming to work. Some mornings you get up and dread (probably not his exact word) coming to work, but as long as there are more mornings that you look forward to it, you keep coming. I think there a lot more of those good mornings ahead of me.

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