The next buccaneer, with striped shirt and mischievous grin, should have been enough for me to notice a pattern, but I still hadn’t finished my first cup of coffee and wasn’t imagining what was going on.
As a teacher I’d loved pirates, growing a beard and slipping in a hoop earring to celebrate “Pirate Week” every other year with my students (there’s another post in that somewhere). As an administrator I keep a pirate flag in my office and the sketch of a salty sea rat on the notes of thanks I like to write. I may not be able to be quite as swashbuckling as a principal, but I like to think that I’ve kept that pirate spirit.
When the next pirate, a math teacher, walked past my office, her π-rate t-shirt accompanied by a scarlet sash and high leather boots, I realized there was something afoot. “Ahoy,” she said, waving. Another teacher popped up beside her, “Cap’n,” he added from beneath a skull and bones bandana. And it dawned on me that I was witnessing something magical.
There are moments we look back on over our professional lives, times when we experienced great kindness or profound emotion, and as I saw an instructional assistant walk past these pirates with a parrot on his shoulder, I realized that today was one of those events for me.
In my first year as principal of Diegueño Middle School I’ve worked hard to earn the respect of the amazing educators who make up our staff. From the first day of school they’ve treated me well, welcoming me into classrooms and helping me feel like a part of our great Diegueño family.
Today, as three-cornered hats and hoop earrings were more common than ID badges, and every face I saw had a smile and the twinkling eyes of someone who has just pulled off a delicious surprise (which they had), I was overwhelmed by the feeling of gratitude.
I am blessed to work with a band of pirates who know how to mix work and play, and who kept a collective secret that, unveiled, shivered my timbers.
I will never forget today, the smiles and eyepatches, the support and love. My first Halloween as principal of Diegueño goes down as one of those special life events, humbling, moving, and wearing an eyepatch.