One of my enjoyable finds over the holidays is the blog, The PrincipalsPage.
A recent entry started this way.
A big part of being a school administrator is working with students.
As a principal I've always known that by far the vast majority of students will like and respect you and that you will have many opportunities to see their wonderful work and watch them grow to become positive members of a community. This is particularly true if you teach and administer in a small geographical area for many years.
Today I was walking through the mall and met up with a former student. It has been a very long time since I have seen him close enough to talk with. I had a very brief, but enjoyable conversation with him today and walked away from it feeling pretty good.
Many years ago, when I was principal of an elementary school where this boy attended, we had lots of encounters, and the conversations were not always that friendly. I recognized in him an amazing talent that was not being fully utilized and spent a fair bit of time trying to get him moving in a different direction. This involved some negotiation with his parents as well as his teachers to try to keep him in class.
As his grade 7 year was drawing to a close, I decided to create a new Principal's Award just for him. I called it the "Road Not Taken". My rationale was that he had made some great strides towards making serious changes in attitude and behaviour. I think I was inspired by Yogi Berra and his observation about coming to a fork in the road and taking it.
Over the years I kept apprised of his progress as school became what appeared to be an unimportant part of his life. I never had the opportunity to talk with him about things and when I did see him he mostly grunted an acknowledgment that I had said hello. But, I kept saying hello when I did see him.
Today, his physical appearance was so totally different I almost didn't recognize him. We talked about how things were going. He asked if I was still a principal and I said I wasn't but was still working in schools with teachers and students using technology. "Still a geek, then." he said with a laugh.
He's been working in construction the past year and is enjoying himself.
It was a very positive part of my day, and a reminder that sometimes when you try hard with troubled students, the payoff doesn't come until many years later.