Last week, I had a conversation with one of my students who participates in the Young Gents program. He’d read the article about how I’ll be transitioning to Kennedy Road Middle School next year. Needless to say, he wasn’t excited about it. It was breakfast time, and he said, “So, you’re just gonna leave us and go to Kennedy?” Before I could reply, he said, “You know that’s messed up, right?!” Wow. I was completely caught off guard, but I knew that he was hurt and this was how he was expressing his emotions.
In working with young males, I’ve learned that they have problems expressing their feelings. They don’t want to come off as hurt or sad, so they mask it with anger or brush the issue to the side. In this instance, I knew that he wanted to say more, but he didn’t want to get caught up in something he couldn’t change. He’d learned that lesson last year in one of our sessions- Focus on What YOU can Change, and the rest will fall into place. But, back to the story- I waited until everyone was dismissed and caught him at his locker. I said, “Will you be at Carver forever?” He replied, “No, cause after I finish 8th grade I’ll be going to Griffin High.” I said, “What have you learned in these years of being in Young Gents?” He said, “That you get mad at us when we get in trouble,” and started laughing. I laughed as well, and told him that was true. But it was in that moment that I took a second to tell him, “I’m still going to look out for you. I’m going to take care of you guys. I promise.” He said, “Ok, Dr. G. I believe you,” and he walked back to class.
I’m not certain what made me think of that experience tonight. Perhaps, it was the fact that I spent another full day at Kennedy, and it’s becoming a reality for me as well- I will not be at Carver Road Middle School next year. It’s been my home for 11 years, and I’ve grown tremedously…TREMENDOUSLY! But I’m looking forward to this next phase of my life and my career. The students help me to understand that it’s not about me. It never was and never will be. What I do know is that work is done through me, and without getting too preachy, I know that I’m just a vessel that the work is sent through. I’m willing to do it. So now, I leave a legacy behind and begin a new one. What will my legacy be at Kennedy Road Middle? What will people think of me? What are their expectations of me? All of these are questions that are forming and being shaped right now. It’s the prime time to do it, and I believe it will pay off in the end.
I was in the hallway today at Kennedy Road Middle when some seventh graders were leaving Connections. One student said, “Hey, new principal.” I replied, “What’s up, I’m Dr. Gardner, what’s your name?” I’m upset with myself because I don’t remember his name at the time. I met about 15 kids today, and I remember their faces, but not their names. Nevertheless, I’m breaking the ice with them so I can get to know them, and they can get to know me. Much has been given to me, so I know much will be required. It’s about the kids….the ones that I have now and the ones that I will inherit. It makes the work worth it. That’s what keeps me going, and that’s where I want my focus to remain. As educators, we have to stay connected to them. I read something on Twitter a couple of days ago that said that educators affect more people in one year than most people affect in a lifetime. It’s true. Our work is not to be taken lightly. Those who do take it lightly weren’t meant for this profession. We change lives. We impact kids, and their futures can be changed with the right person guiding them. I hope to be one of those people.
With #2185Pride and #CougarAccountability,