Sunday, May 17, 2009

Putting Things Into Perspective


Every week at school I can't imagine things getting any worse, and yet it does. Never did I ever think that so many really difficult issues could arise like they have with the current economic crisis. I have seen the ups and downs of our economy and how it has affected our district over the years, but it has been nothing like this.

This past week, I had to meet with some of our classified staff to tell them about hours that are being cut which means losing health insurance benefits. These are longtime and loyal employees. We have also had to make our class sizes larger in order to make even deeper budget cuts. Each day and hour bring more bad news and very sad situations. Over the years, I have had to deal with many unpleasant issues as a principal. However, this is beyond anything I ever thought could happen. I know that as part of my job, I have to do some very unpleasant and difficult things, but these past weeks have been the absolute worst. Amidst all of this garbage, the school year goes on. We have to remember why we are there--for the children. So this time of year brings awards, etc. So I have had the honor of calling parents with good news. I have always said that the range of emotion that one goes through in a short time can be so unbelievable. I didn't know it would ever be the way it has been lately.

On Tuesday, I came back to my office from one of the many very depressing district meetings that we have had lately. I noticed that there was a wheelchair by my office. I asked who it belonged to and was told that it belongs to a parent who is dealing with terminal cancer.

A few weeks ago, we were approached by a non-profit organization that helps women with a variety of services. They provide legal aid, social workers, job counselors, and even help with how to dress, etc. Their purpose is to help women who have had set backs in life to get on with their lives and find out their own self-worth. They also provide classes in budgeting, parenting, and almost anything else that is needed. They had been referred to our school by the Chamber of Commerce because they knew how much we do for families. They are trying to branch out into our side of the valley. After meeting with the ladies in charge and reading about what they have to offer, I was very excited to have them be a part of our community. Once they get established, they will find a permanent location. As we were talking to the ladies a few weeks ago, I could think of so many parents who would benefit.

So last week was their first week at our school. They had several appointments already lined up, one of which was the parent with cancer. I walked out of my office a bit later and the mom was getting into her wheelchair. She was so sweet and asked me how I was. We talked for a few minutes and then she said she wanted to thank me. She proceeded to tell me that she had just been with the legal person filling out her living will. I was so taken aback by this and just told her I was glad we were able to help her. We talked a few more minutes and then she left. I went in to my office, shut my door, and cried for a few minutes. I had to pull it together for the next issue.

This was Tuesday. On Wednesday, we had our final Flag Ceremony of the year. At each Flag Ceremony, our local Kiwanis Club presents a bicycle, helmet, and lock to a student "caught with character." Teachers submit names and I chose one student each month. This is one part of my job that I love!!! The young lady who won this time is a first grader who has a very serious form of arthritis, but you would never know it if you saw her. She always has a huge smile on her little face and a big hug to give you. She has dealt and continues to deal with much pain each day. Some of the treatment that she has undergone is almost worse than her disease. But she is at school almost every day no matter what, works her heart out, and loves to be a Tiger. Although our job is to teach her to read, write, and learn math, she teaches all of us something every single day. I feel privileged to be her principal. Her parents are incredible and so supportive and trusting of us.

Both this mom and this young lady show courage that cannot be measured by any assessment or AIMS test. They demonstrate each day that life should be lived to the fullest no matter what obstacles may come our way. They truly put everything that is happening right now into perspective. Once again, I feel that these two events happening this week were not a coincidence. I believe that the resiliency displayed by both of these incredible humans can help all of us, but especially they have helped me. For that I am so thankful!

And I do believe that there are "Angels Among Us!!!"

5 remarks:

Anonymous said...

This is a beautiful song to go with this amazing post.
Love & hugs,
Nancy

Susie of Arabia said...

I know how rewarding your job is, despite the many challenges and heartbreaks. Making a difference in people's lives just can't be measured.

velvet brick said...

Sheila, I truly believe that your choice of song is very appropriate, because, for many reasons known and unknown, our school, with you at the helm, has been fortunate to be the 'soft spot' for so many families, so many situations, that need help...and I truly believe they would not have received what they did anywhere else. Thank you for making Gilbert El. more than 'just a school'. Your vision, your support and your beliefs allow our school to do more than just teach 1,2,3 and a,b,c,. What a tribute to you and Gilbert El. that so many trust us with so much. Beautiful post.
Carol

Anonymous said...

God Bless you,Sheila....may He continue to give you strength and courage as you end once again another school year, my dear friend.
Love,
Sandra

N-Search of Peace said...

I so love the universe!

I am grateful, daily, that you were given to us ALL in this time and space!...you will always continue to value what is in front of you...the bad too...figuring out where it is needed to be, other than what it is...
Love to you sweetie!
N-Peace