Friday, September 23, 2011

And That's The Way It Is....

I grew up hearing those words - "that's the way it is" - as the CBS Evening News ended each night. Walter Cronkite's soothing voice would tell my parents what had happened that day, while this little skinny girl tried to stay out of the way of the television even though the path to anywhere in the entire house meant walking right in front of it. I heard that voice describe the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. And I heard that voice give play-by-play of numerous episodes of space travel. During Walter Cronkite's last newscast, my college roommate and I made sure to tune in, just to hear him say those words one last time.

I was reminded of that this week as I listened to my principal do the afternoon announcements just before he walked out of the school to head to another educational adventure. I wrote about my principal's decision to accept another position and lamented on the emotions my colleagues and I were feeling. And the month he remained in the school after he shared his decision to leave was, as I heard someone describe it, the longest goodbye ever.

We wrote him notes, brought him gifts, emailed how much he meant to us, talked to him nonstop about his impact on our school (and on us, personally); we threw him a huge party, complete with skits and interpretive dances and PowerPoint presentations with pictures of our boss and funny captions. We thought we were ready. I thought I was ready.

But then those last announcements came on that last day, and they sounded so normal, so this-is-just-a-regular-day: The football team did this, school pictures are on that date, etc. But in my head I was hearing words that I've heard for six years during many other renditions of afternoon announcements - "I love each and every one of you," for example. Then he ended with the words I was whispering quietly to myself because I'd heard them so many times: "I hope you have a great Grizzly afternoon."

Those simple words reminded me of so many others, like the synchronized phone calls to my home phone: "Good evening. This is Mr. Johnson, your principal at the almighty Gravelly Hill Middle School" and his words to the students -"I love you before the standardized tests, and I'll love you after the standardized tests."

Although he's gone now, and his office is empty except for hooks on the wall that will hold someone else's family pictures and diplomas, there are so many words that will forever ring in my ears: "How will this get results?," "It's all about the kids," and, most importantly, "Once a Grizzly; Always a Grizzly."

And that's just the way it is.

3 comments:

Sioux said...

We're so lucky when we get to work with a great administrator. They are few and far between.

Anonymous said...

A graduate student taking units in Education, i just dropped by your blogsite. I expected it to help me im some way, but i didn't expect to be teary-eyed reading this=).

How could a principal have such a big heart, when we parents sometimes find it hard even to tell our kids we love them! I mean, we could say that, but actually being patient and kind every day... is something else.

God bless you for the site.

Anonymous said...

Nice...I wish your principal good luck. He sounds like a wonderful person.