The Grand Tour

I felt like Moses in one of those old Charlton Heston movies. Arms spread wide, a flock of people following me, listening as I walked backward across campus. All I needed was a pair of sandals and some flowing robes to go with my little sermon.

photo 5 (1)Truth be told, I was nowhere near grand enough to make it into a Cecil B. Demille picture, but what I lacked in bearded gravitas I made up for in enthusiasm. It was my first campus tour, delivered to prospective seventh graders and their families, and I realized halfway through that not only was I having a good time, but I wished every one of my teachers (and students too) had an opportunity to give a tour like this.

Talking about Diegueño comes easy; we’re a dynamic learning community, with strong teachers, kind kids, and state of the art technology. Our classrooms aren’t all straight rows of desks, and our media center is really what we call it: “The Family Room of Campus.” I appreciate these things every day, but when I got the opportunity to stand up in front of a group of kids and adults who don’t know Diegueño (yet), I could see what a great perspective articulating the good work here gave me.

Confession: I strayed off script.

photo 4 (2)My assistant principal, a veteran of such tours, having given many in his three years at Diegueño, left me a list of topics to cover. You’ll start in the media center, he wrote, and end up in the girls’ locker room. “Girls’ locker room?” I asked. “It’s cleaner than the boys’,” he answered. That made sense. “And parents and kids always have questions about PE.”

His page long list of facts was great: our hands on approach in science, cool projects in history class, and the benefits of our Dual Language Immersion program; but I found as I walked with my group that I also wanted to celebrate other aspects of Diegueño that I love: Link Week (our reimagined “Friendship Week” designed to bring our campus together), the lawn where teachers and students sometimes have picnics together, the place where our kids play board games at lunch, and our ASB’s propensity to have three legged races as lunchtime activities.

There was so much to talk about that I know I went long, and as I looked back at my AP’s list, I know I missed the common core state standards in English and the benefits of our Cougar Academic Time. …but I did mention those three legged races!

While I might have missed some things, fortunately I wasn’t alone in the presentation. The best part of the tour, hands down, was the kids.

photo 3 (5)Three current students traveled along with me, providing information, infectious smiles, and a personal touch that should guarantee them a job giving campus tours at whatever university they end up attending. The difference in our tour today, however, was a sense of genuineness that sometimes succumbs to the patter of a college tour guide’s memorized speech. Today’s tour was all about an honest conversation about Diegueño.

How many of us have the opportunity to share honestly about the place we work? How many of us are put in a position where we have an audience who is genuinely curious about our school and we have the responsibility to talk about it fairly?

I say “fairly,” because I wasn’t going to simply put a rosy glow on everything; these are folks who will be with me for two years, and fibbing on our first date would be dishonest and a little stupid.

So I told them about the six rooms that didn’t have air conditioning (and our plan that provides alternative rooms on the super hot days of August and June). I mentioned that we’re at the end of a dead end street, which means drop off and pick up could be tricky (though I also mentioned the clever workarounds our parents know of dropping kids off at one of our back gates). And I was honest about our need for more shade (and our plan to get umbrellas for the picnic tables and a shade structure outside our B pod).

photo 1 (4)The kids were honest too, and I’m proud that the three students who had the pluck and poise to stand up in front of an audience of close to a hundred parents and sixth graders were able to talk about their own Diegueño experience in ways that were real and positive.

I wish everyone on my staff could have the opportunity to tell their own Diegueño experiences to an audience as great as the one I saw today. I think both sides of the tour would benefit from it. I know today I did.

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