As a teacher I loved Back to School Night. The rush of meeting scores of curious parents, seeing the care and interest these parents had for their kids, and the thrill of showing off the great things that were happening (and going to happen) in the classroom I shared with their students was a powerful (if maybe a little exhausting) experience. When I left the classroom and put on the tie of an assistant principal, I found myself uncertain exactly what to do at these events. I knew I wasn’t the draw; parents wanted to meet teachers and be in classrooms. I was, at best, a human directional, pointing folks to the right buildings. Tomorrow night I get to experience my first Back to School Night as principal of Diegueño Middle School, and I have that feeling of excitement welling up that I used to get as a teacher.
I know that the parents still aren’t here to see me; this is a night to celebrate the teaching and learning that is going on in classrooms, but as the fellow who gets to stand up (albeit briefly) in front of parents and welcome them to campus I’m like a proud parent before his daughter’s inauguration as president.
It may not be the best analogy; many of the teachers at Diegueño have been here longer than I have. They’ve been the fabric of the strong and beautiful tapestry that is our school for years. These teachers will impress parents with their wisdom, passion, and sense of fun. Diegueño’s veterans are a band of gifted educators who have welcomed me, as they welcome their new students, with open arms, high expectations, and friendly smiles.
Those smiles are also on the faces of the teachers new to Diegueño, nearly a dozen this year (as we grow to about 950 students). As the principal who had a hand in bringing these amazing educators to our campus, I’m very excited for parents to get to meet these latest additions to our Diegueño Family. The passion and purpose they bring to their work is profound, as is their kids-first philosophy and creative approach to working with students.
A dad myself, these teachers are the people I want working with my own kids when they get to middle school. I trust them, admire them, and am looking forward to showing them off tomorrow night.
Put simply, the strength of a school is its teachers, and the relationships those teachers have with students and families. Back to School Night is a chance for us all to be on campus together, and for moms and dads, grandparents and guardians, and all of us who care so much about these students to connect in a way we can’t over email or even in a phone call. I love the bustle of the night, as hundreds of parents crowd campus and get to see a sliver of the great work we do here with kids. And while I understand my role as tour director is auxiliary, I’m looking forward to opening my arms wide tomorrow night and saying “Welcome to Diegueño!”