Ending the Year with Dignity: A Principal's Message

“What we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our 
minds. We can start over…The notion that it’s too late to do anything is comical. 
It’s hilarious...We can’t, we MUST not lose this sense of possibility because in the 
end, it’s all we have.”     ~Marina Keegan ~ 2012

The principal at my school puts children first.  He treats them with dignity and care.  Similarly, he supports teachers with trust and kindness too.  I often say, "He puts the skip into our step and enlivens our creativity."  Thus we have a happy, caring school community.

Each month he writes a thoughtful newsletter with wise words.  Recently, he gave the learning community, parents, students and teachers, important questions and perspective to consider as we end the year.  He dedicated the newsletter to his former student and community member, Marina Keegan, who recently died in an unfortunate accident.  These are his words:

"The second purpose for which I use my closing newsletter has to do with the quote from Marina that began this piece. ~ It is in our human nature to compare. We do it all the time. Sometimes it is positive and motivational ~ other times it slows us down and clouds our vision. I know it is crucial to see each year of school in an individual way. The collective package creates the end product. If we make one year better than another, we can lose part of a lesson that may build an important part of the whole character. ~ To that end, it is important to reflect upon the school year ~ to find the lessons learned that (as Marina said so well) establish the possibilities that lie ahead. Each year brings lessons that make everyone stronger and no year goes without value. Note the successes and help your young learner to be positive as he or she comes home from Move-Along Day ~ and be positive about the year past and the new one to come. As you move from the year into the lazy days of summer haze ~ ponder these questions…  

1. What new ideas did you think about this year? 
2. Name five things you didn’t know about before the year started? 
3. What did you get better at this year? How did you get better at it? 
4. What people did you meet ~ in school ~ on field trips ~ in cultural enrichment ~ etc.? 
5. What projects did you do? Which ones came out the best and why? 
6. When were you kind to someone and how did that turn out? 
7. When did you try something new? 
8. Did you take any risks? 
9. Name one happy time. What were you doing?  
10. What was fun? 
11. What was challenging? How did you make it through? 
12. Who helped you and will you ever be able to help someone in that way? 
13. When were you helpful? 
14. How did you bring the core values of the school alive? 

The questions can go on and on if you have the time or a long drive to any of the many events or destinations that take us to our summer plans. However, as the conversation takes shape, the year will too, and you will find the places of success that every grade school year brings ~ those that  helped to develop the character of value that has changed your child forever… discuss with you child or children a time when they felt most successful, triumphant. Tell them to remember what that time was like and how they felt so they can keep that in mind and know that at least one way to learn is by building upon successes. Remind them that learning from mistakes and the times of challenge are equally as important because how we learn to navigate those times becomes the strength and courage that we need to get us to the successes and joyful times." - James Lee

Principal James Lee impacts the children and colleagues in his care each day.  Marina Keegan, his former student, was a gifted writer and recent Yale graduate whose life and words made her Person of the Week. In one of her essays, Song for the Special, she imparts a life enriching lesson and refers back to her time in Mr. Lee's fourth grade class many times.  Mr. Lee continues to impact the children and colleagues in his care with kindness, and with his words above he sets the stage for a dignified ending of the school year and a kind start to the next.
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