When my first grandson was in first grade at Tillicum Elementary School, his father and I walked into that classroom – with the permission of then Principal Taj Jensen – and asked how many would like to play baseball.
Every hand that went up belonged to a child who was then on the team.
That first year we lost almost every game in Lakewood’s PONY league, which stands for Protect Our Nation’s Youth.
The second year however we won it all, the championship.
The players on the team picked their own name and their own colors. We coaches had nothing to do with their decision. They called themselves the Tillicum Crushers. Their jerseys were orange. Their pants were black. Orange socks.
On Fridays they wore their uniforms to school. Rallies were held in the gym for the big game on Saturday. Teachers came to the games and threw in the first pitch. If the teachers couldn’t be there, they would call that night for the score.
City Councilmembers were in the stands.
It was our very own Friday Night Lights, only baseball. Our cheering section of parents, teachers and community members were the loudest, rowdiest, most faithful in our level of baseball.
My job was to raise money for the team. Over the next five years, the great bulk of the money came from the community itself.
One day a local affiliation of a national health organization sent to me an application by which I could appeal for funds. They wanted to know however, what they would receive in return for their contribution.
I told them the story of one of our players, a first grader, who scored the first ever home run in Tillicum Crusher history.
That homerun was not however because he had hit the ball over the Green Monster in deep center field. He was, after all, six years old.
As a matter of fact, the ball he hit never left the infield. The other team just chased him with the ball all around the bases.
He scored the first ever home run in Tillicum Crusher history because he never stopped running.
So, in my application to this health organization who asked what they would get in return for their donation, I wrote, “You tell me what that memory means to this young man, and what he learned that day that he can use all the rest of his life: what you can accomplish when you never stop running, when you never quit, when you finish what you start, and that’s what your contribution will do.”
They wrote out a check.
That true story illustrates one of the reasons I am running for Clover Park School Board.
I want a chance to prove that within the heart of every single child and youth is a dream. A dream that is accompanied by their innate gifts, skills, talents, and abilities that need to be realized, encouraged, and tracked as they are guided through their team relationships with parents and teachers on a matching career pathway.
Those dreams, skills, gifts, talents, and abilities, have little to do with identification in some supposed historically marginalized group.
Those dreams, skills, gifts, talents, and abilities, have little to do with identification with supposed socio-economic community from which they come.
Those dreams, skills, gifts, talents, and abilities have little to do with the color of their skin.
Labels are libel.
The emPHAsis is on the wrong sylLABle in the current trajectory of the Clover Park School District Board.
We need to flip the script.
As a community is revitalized from the inside out, so an individual youngster is immeasurably helped by focusing on their skills, gifts, talents, and abilities.
I want a chance to show, to prove this model works.
Whether community or classroom, the value, the principle, the method is the same.
That is why I am running for Clover Park School Board.
That is why I thank you for your vote.
Let’s do this.