Some memories are made intentionally. Other memories are treasured forever. Memories of laughter, memories of trips, experiences, new beginnings. If you stop and think about it, the ability to just plain remember something is a gift in many ways. And then there are difficult memories. The loss of a job, the fear of the unknown, an experience that changed your life. Memories that won't fade.
This was a challenging week for me. I experienced yet another "first" as a principal. I've come to realize, these "firsts" will never cease. Even when I am in year 47 of my principal career (#californiasoldestprincipal), I believe I will still be having "firsts."
Upon arriving to school on Thursday, I had a sweet grandma waiting to see me. This grandma is an active part of our community along with her husband and daughter who love our sweet little elementary school. I remember last school year at the Halloween Carnival when I complimented grandma on her spunky witch hat, she was tickled. She made me wear the hat for the next 3 hours and I loved every second of it. I was new to the community and something about the sharing of that hat made me feel connected and welcomed. Memories that won't fade.
Out of respect for the family and the tragic scenario, I won't go into details here but grandma was at school to ask me for help. As we stood in my office, she shared with me that her daughter had died the night before. Grandma was at school to break the news to her second grade grandson who didn't know yet. My heart broke into a million pieces in that moment. Memories that won't fade.
As the morning unfolded, our incredible counseling staff stepped up to the plate without hesitation. There were hugs, tears, and questions in the next hour that unfolded. I wrote letters to my staff, and parent community, I made calls, I hugged teachers and students. Thankfully, I stood strong when I felt weak. These are all memories of mine that won't fade but the memory I can't shake is the one that my precious little second grader may have for the rest of his life. The memory of the morning his principal came into his classroom and took him by the hand and led him to where his family was waiting for him with tragic news. I've made that walk from Room 4C to the office a thousand times. It never felt as long as it did that morning.
I could share numerous lessons and "take aways" from the events of this week. What gets me the most is that this delightful grandma who once shared her hat with me, came to our school for help when she didn't know where to turn. This beautiful gray-haired woman with a lifetime of experience came to me, a 30 year old rookie principal. She stood before me and asked me for help. That was an eye-opener for me, in so many ways. I will be there for this family. I will be there for this student. I will stand in the gap wherever I can and hold onto the memories that won't fade.