I had an interesting conversation with a colleague yesterday. It started as nearly all of my recent conversations have: by discussing the state’s new evaluation system. Twists and turns ensued, and we meandered onto the topic of legacies. I mentioned to her that of all of the things that I have done in my career, the thing I’m the proudest of — and what I hope my legacy can be tied to — is the staff that has been assembled in this school. She replied sheepishly, coyly, and with almost a hushed voice, “Do you tell them that?”
The sentence was in the form of a question, but it wasn’t a query. It was a statement. My intitial and immediate reaction was to answer the question at face value, until my mind realized that the body language and message behind the message was the real intent, and then I went into some kind of haze — a mental whirling dervish in which all of my own questions and thoughts twisted and turned at a pace I couldn’t match. I can’t recall my actual response, just the feeling I had while reeling at the verbal joust, and the thoughts that followed.
I felt like I had been asked a question like: “Do you tell your wife often enough that you love her?” Can one answer that question with a “yes”? Let me reply to my own rhetorical question by stating that I could not possibly say that to my wife enough. I think the same would apply to telling a staff that it collectively knocks it out of the park on a daily basis — any level of frequency is lacking.
I swallowed my answer that would have included numerous compliments that I have passed along to the entire group and to individuals through this blog, in staff meetings, in weekly updates, meetings with new teachers, etc. The implication…no, the accusation…was that people on our staff do not know the high esteem in which I hold them, and that’s because I either don’t say it, or don’t say it convincingly. Why would I argue to the contrary? The fact is, I realized, that the accusation must be true (What would the motivation be to suggest such a thing if it weren’t?), and that I ought to learn the intended lesson.
So I can’t help but think of the Van Morrison lyrics that Rod Stewart later crooned (so long ago that our new teachers have no recollection of!): “Have I told you lately that I love you?” All jesting and quirkiness aside, I am incredibly proud of the staff assembled at ZMS. It is a collection of talent willing to be industrious, professional, and collaborative. It would be a true honor to be known as “the guy who may not have had any talent himself, but by gosh he knew good teachers when he interviewed them, and was smart enough to recommend them to be hired when he did!” That may be a bit wordy for a tombstone, but it’ll do as a legacy.
Now, if you’ll pardon me, I need to go call my wife and tell her I love her.