What does it take to defend the castle against fire-breathing dragons? Even, and maybe especially if you are the princess and not the prince? More problematic, what if you are so small in stature that your sword is longer than you are tall?
The answer to this and most if not all challenges in life for people of any age and size seems to me is two-fold.
The first is the awareness that we all dream, while at the same time accepting, and acknowledging with honest appraisal that between picking up the sword and actually slaying the dragon there will be disillusionment and disappointments and setbacks and failure.
We are all human after all.
And life is not a fairy tale.
Yet if our story is to approximate anywhere near ending happily ever after, there is a second critical component each of us on life’s adventure must have – must have – as in nonnegotiable, unequivocal, indisputable, and that is someone, multiple ‘someones’ preferably – with skin on, with skin in the game – to join us on our journey.
Someone who will speak words of encouragement; whose presence keeps us pressing on despite obstacles and fatigue; who even – and yes, we need this too – will discipline with dignity.
This is the adventuresome world of parenting, and of education, and of life.
In his book “Adventures In Education: One Teacher’s True Story” author Stephen T. Doyle writes, “When we take the time to get to know students, we discover that they dream too. They suffer too. They have self-doubt too.”
Dreams that can be shattered.
That which is broken, however, can be beautiful, as in the shards of glass that make a kaleidoscope beautiful, provided there is someone there to both collect the pieces, and connect with the person.
In the world of education, the collector and the connector is especially the teacher, but also the bus driver, the food service provider, anyone at all who cares about youth.
Of Doyle’s book, Taj Jensen, former Principal of Tillicum Elementary School, Washington State Elementary School Principal of the Year, and School Turnaround Executive Leadership Director writes, “Steve’s book does an amazing job at uncovering the power of relationships and the positive impact we have on the human spirit when it is fed.”
Doyle has in his office a painting from a former student. It is a portrait of Moses Maimonides, “who worked in the court of the sultan of Cairo by day and cared for the destitute of the city by night.”
Maimonides began each day with this prayer:
“Deem me worthy of seeing,
In the sufferer
Who seeks my advice,
Neither rich nor poor,
Friend nor foe,
Good or evil.
Show me only the person.“
As we head back to school, and head out on this adventure called life, may each of our days begin this way.
David Anderson is School Board Director District Four, which includes Tillicum, for Clover Park School District. His reflections upon returning to school are his own.