Thursday, June 28, 2018

The Power of Moments


I was asked to share my speech from the 4th grade Moving Up Ceremony, so here it is...

Welcome parents, family members, teachers, and most important…4th graders, welcome to your moving up ceremony!  Last week I had the chance to meet many of next year’s kindergartners, and I can’t help but think back to five years ago when I was meeting most of you and talking to you about coming to kindergarten.  For many of you, your first year in kindergarten was my first year as the principal of Florence Roche.  We were both eager and ready for a new experience, you all were figuring out how to find your classroom, meeting your teachers, and learning about this whole school thing.  Meanwhile I was figuring out how to get into classrooms, making connections with teachers and parents, and learning about this whole leading a school thing.  I guess we both figured out what to do because five years later…here we are.

Just like the new crew last Monday, and as you saw in the video, you were all so little and the school seemed so big in your eyes back then.  And now, as you are about to move up and actually move just a few hundred feet next door to this school, well now you are the big kids at FloRo and somehow the school has gotten smaller through your eyes.  It’s been the same for me.  When I became your principal…it seemed like quite a task to get to know 520ish students, 1,000s of parents and 60 or so staff members.  But now, FloRo is my family.  This school has become a close knit, caring community that has wrapped its arms around me and all of you.  But the time has come to move onto a bigger school where once again you might feel like the small fish in a big pond.  But I hope that you will remember how hard you have worked over the years, how much you have persevered, and how much you have accomplished in your time at elementary school.

This past year, I read an amazing book.  It’s called The Power of Moments: Why Certain Experiences Have Extraordinary Impact.  I love this book so much that I am going to reread it this summer and tell more people about it.  And I want to talk about this book a little with all of you.  In the book, the authors talk about how important moments in our life are.  Sitting here today, I am thinking back on all of the moments that have happened for our 4th graders over the past 5 years.  I love when the authors in the book say, “We must learn to think in moments, to spot the occasions that are worthy of investment…in organizations (like school for example) we are consumed with goals…but for an individual human being, moments are the thing.  Moments are what we remember and what we cherish.”  I hope that your teachers and I have helped create moments for you over the past several years.  I don’t expect you to remember exactly what you did during math class in November or exactly what your teacher said in second grade about the way to write an opinion paper or exactly which artists you learned about in art.  But I hope that we created some pretty amazing moments that you will take with you.  Tuck them away in your pockets and pull them out, remember them, cherish them.

Maybe you had a moment in 1st grade when your teacher turned your classroom into a beach scene and you were able to read books with your friends.  Maybe you had a moment when your 3rd grade teacher let you create something with magnets.  Maybe you had a moment this year when you designed something new in MakerSpace.  Maybe you had a moment when you helped a friend solve a problem and you were so proud of yourself.  The school year is 181 days, times five years that’s 905 days at Florence Roche.  You are not going to remember every single thing that happened and every single thing you learned.  But I hope you are going to remember the moments that we helped create here.  I know I am going to.  I am going to cherish so many moments where I was able to get to know you, watch you grow right before my eyes, watch you laugh and laugh with you, sometimes watch you cry and offer you a shoulder to lean on.  Please keep thinking in moments.  My wish is that your teachers and your principals continue to make moments for all of you.

I have to share that my favorite moment of this year happened with all of the 4th graders.  Back in December, we loaded you all up on buses and headed to the brand new theater in Littleton to see the movie Wonder.  As I stop in the theater welcoming you all in and watching you find seats, several of you came up to me and said, “This is the best day ever, the best field trip ever!”  And the funny thing was…the movie had not even started yet!  And as we watched the movie, I spent half the time looking around me and watching all of you.  Everyone was focused on Auggie and the movie and the important message of kindness…and in that moment, my heart was bursting with love and pride.  That is a moment that I know I will cherish always.  And when you all graduate from high school…I am wondering if that will be moment that you remember from elementary school.

Since I shared my favorite moment and it happened to be related to one of my favorite books, I want to read a little section from the book Wonder.
(share principal speech chapter)

All it takes is to be kind.  Your teachers and I, we have been looking out for you over the years.  Now it’s time for you to look out for each other.  Be kind to each other.  When you go through middle school and high school, you get to create your story, you get to create your moments.  What will your story be?  What will everyone remember about you?  What moments will you remember? Your friends that you are sitting next to, they will remember how you treated them and how you made them feel.  Make sure those memories that you are creating are good ones.  Being kind does not cost anything and anyone can do it.  But if you can simply remember to be kind, not only will you reap the rewards that will last long after middle school, but everyone around you will also benefit and you may never even know the impact you had on all of those people. 

In the book, the principal said, “If every person in this room made it a rule that whenever you can, you will try to act a little kinder than is necessary – the world really would be a better place.”  I hope that during your time at FloRo, besides math equations and writing strategies and technology skills, you have learned the importance of being kind.  In the book, we learn that we actually need to be kinder than needed.  As you go onto middle school, I hope you will continue doing the hard work involved in building good social karma.  Karma means that what you put into the world, you get back.  If you put kindness out, you get kindness back.  It’s very simple.  Be kind.

And to finish this morning, instead of giving you answers, I will leave you with a few questions.  I don’t need to know your answers, in fact pretty soon I won’t be here for you to tell me your answers.  But I hope you will remember these questions and work on the answers over the next several years.

Instead of asking you what you want to be or do when you grow up, I want to ask you what problem will you solve?

Instead of asking you what accomplishment you will achieve from the school or your teachers, I want to ask you how will you help make this school a better place?  How will change the world…because I know you will all do that.

Instead of asking you what you will learn or study, I want to ask you what moments will you help create and what moments will you cherish always?

Instead of asking you who you will be friends with or who you will still be connected to through middle school and high school, I want to ask you how will you be kinder than is necessary to everyone?

You won’t be able to tell us the answers to these questions, but someday you will all show us, your teachers, parents, your community, you will show us the answers to those questions.

In a minute, Mrs. Wallace will be coming up here to call all of your names out and have you walk across the stage.  We are going to hear all of your names called out as you walk across the stage today, but I hope you know that you are all unique, wonderful individuals.  We will miss you at Florence Roche.  I will miss you.  But we wish you all the best.  Keep reading, keep learning, keep living in the moment, keep loving your parents, and keep being kinder than necessary.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Daddy's on the radio! 28/31 #SOL18

This morning, I was a little late to work because I needed to drop my daughter off at daycare.  On Tuesday mornings, our daycare provider does not open until 8:15, and then once I get my daughter settled into her day at the home daycare, it's another 40 minute or so drive to my school.  Normally, my husband is the one dropping her off.  This was a special treat, but we got an even better retreat when we pulled into the driveway of the daycare.

The reason my husband could not drop her off was because today he had a radio interview.  I half forgot, half was not really paying attention when we told me about why I needed to change my work schedule so he could do this interview.  Then, at 8:15, when we were pulling into the driveway, I remembered.  I flipped to the station that he said was interviewing him.  And suddenly, coming through the car speakers was my husband's voice!

"Daddy's on the radio!" I squealed excitedly to my daughter.  We sat for a minute and heard the DJ interview my husband about his band and about an upcoming event that they were playing this Saturday.  I even heard him mention his wife, that's me, and tell the story of how I made him a sign and that sign got him to be able to sing on stage with 'The Bare Naked Ladies.'  And then suddenly, my husband was singing a song by The Lumineers on the radio.

"Daddy's on the radio!" I again exclaimed.  Emerson got a big grin on her face as she realized that we were listening to her daddy.  But that moment was short-lived when she decided that she really wanted out of her car seat and proceeded to start fake crying, drowning out her daddy's singing.

But for a few minutes, she got to experience her daddy on the radio.  What a great way to start the day!

Trying to Watch American Idol for 10 Minutes 27/31 #SOL18

I thought I would try to watch 10 minutes of American Idol with my 3-year-old.  Here's how that idea worked out...

Emerson: Why is she singing a sad song and crying?
Me: Because she wanted to sing that song.

Emerson: Why are you crying mommy?
Me: Because it's a sad song.

Emerson: What's his name?
Me: I don't know.

Emerson: What's her name?
Me: I am not sure.

Emerson: Why is he singing so loud?
Me: I guess he likes to sing loud?

Emerson: Did she win?
Me: No
Emerson: Why?
Me: Well they still need to sing more songs.

Me: Let's just watch them sing and listen.
Emerson: But what's his name?
Me: I think his name is Travis.

Emerson: Why is he playing the guitar?
Me: Because he likes to play the guitar while he sings.

Me: Did you just toot on me?!
Emerson: (giggling) Yes!
Me: Do you need to go potty?
Emerson: No, I just needed to toot.

Emerson: Why is he sad?
Me: Because he doesn't get to sing anymore in the contest.
Emerson: Oh

Me: Do you want to sing like that some day?
Emerson: I can already sing like that.

Me: (Thought bubble in my head) Ok, this was probably a bad idea, time for bedtime.  Maybe after she is asleep I will actually be able to hear the people sing. :)

Friday, March 23, 2018

Dramatic Pause 23/31 #SOL18

This evening, we were sitting in the audience of the local high school, watching my niece perform in the musical, "The Little Mermaid."  She was putting on quite a performance as Sebastian, the overprotective crab.  At one point, during the scene where Prince Eric was being tossed out to see by Ursula, the sea witch, as the scene was coming to an end and Eric stumbled to the ground and then eventually off stage...the audience was quiet except for one little voice...

My Emerson quietly, but not quite so quietly, called out, "Nooooo!"

And there was a collective giggle from the audience.  She had voiced what everyone was thinking but did not actually call out.  I have to admit, the kid has impeccable timing.

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Wedding Dress and the Ruby Red Shoes 22/31 #SOL18

Tonight, I brought Emerson to see the 1st grade chorus concert.  She was excited to sit in the front row with me and waved to the kids as they climbed on the risers and took their places, ready to sing songs and recite poems.

The students were all dressed up, a few boys even in suits.  In the front room, one little girl caught Emerson's attention.  She was wearing an ankle length dressy dress, white with gold specks on it.  Emerson said, "Look mommy, she's wearing a wedding dress!"

Then she scanned down the rest of the front row of singers and spotted a little girl wearing ruby red sparkly shoes.  She squealed and could barley contain her excitement over the "sparkly shoes!"

Good news is she also enjoyed the singing, especially when they sang "Octopus's Garden."

Dear Blank Page 21/31 #SOL18

Dear Blank Page,

I am writing to let you know that you really frustrate me.  I finally mustered up the nerve to tell you it is over between us.  I mean it this time.  You and your brightness and your emptiness can just leave me alone.  I am done with you.

And don't think you can come crawling back onto my screen tomorrow.  Find someone else to stare blankly at!  I don't need you anymore.

Bu-bye.

Adios.

Sayonara.

Yours untruly,
A. Writer

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In the Presence of Greatness 20/31 #SOL18


Ever have a moment when you knew you were present for something truly special and magical?  A time when you knew you were around good people doing great things?  I had a moment like that tonight.

I was attending a book launch for a picture book titled, Dream Big: A True Story of Courage and Determination, written by the race director for the Boston Marathon, Dave McGillivray, and a local teacher named Nancy Feehrer.   The book launch was a great event.  There was good food, drinks, people socializing, goodie bags with cookies from Mike's Pastry, and the event itself was at Tresca, Ray Bourque's restaurant and Ray was there to snap photos with everyone and support the event.  A lot of amazing experiences, but none of those experiences were anything compared to the special moment that happened in the middle of the event.

Dave spoke to the crowd and said some heartfelt things.  Such as, he said, "We need to be training people emotionally just as much as we are training people physically.  We need to learn how to persevere."  Wow.  Yes, train people emotionally.  That is what our world needs right now.  His talk was powerful and made me stop and think, but that was still not the most special moment of the night.

That moment came when Dave explained how he had recently completed the World Marathon Challenge.  The one where you run 7 marathons in 7 days on 7 continents.  Yes.  You read that correct.  Don't believe me?  Google it.  Crazy to think about what this man did.  But even his describing his commitment to that was not the moment that I am referring to.

The moment when I knew I was in the presence of greatness, of true good, of amazing kindness.  That came when Dave handed all 7 of his medals from 7 different continents to my friend.  The friend whose sons the book is dedicated to.  The friend whose one son is in Heaven.  He passed away when he was six years old due to a rare genetic heart condition.  The friend whose other son, an unbelievable 4 year old, just had a heart transplant a month ago.  A heart transplant.  Dave gave his medals to my friend's 4 year old son.

I am still in awe of that brief exchange.  I was lucky enough to be in the presence of greatness tonight, of great and kind people.  A night like tonight gives me hope for the future.