It wasn’t my idea. The best ones so often aren’t. The truth is that after I’d heard it mentioned early in the fall, I’d just about forgotten about the slim journal with the dog’s face on it. In my first year as the principal at Diegueño I found myself pretty occupied, learning so much, perpetually elbow deep in the day to day challenges of keeping a school moving in the right direction. I love what I do, but even with the right formula of optimism and coffee, I fall asleep pretty quickly at night.
One week, mid-year, when the thick of things felt thicker than usual, and the day ahead seemed filled with heaps of work that mattered in the way flossing your teeth or cleaning your toilet matter, I was given a jolt of joy when I found that puppy looking up from the top of my keyboard.
A pang of recognition hit me as I read: “WOW” on the cover.
I opened the journal and read the note attached to the first page describing the idea. The teacher who brought this to our campus wrote:
How many times has a student told you how much they love another teacher’s class? How many times has a fellow staff member gone out of his or her way to make your day better? …I know! Too many times to count.
Anyhow, I am starting a WOW journal (kind of cheesy, I know). When you get the journal, it is because someone wrote you a positive letter. Once you receive it, read your letter and pick someone else to write to. It can be any other adult who works here on campus.”
I won’t put the letter I read that morning in this post; blogger that I am, I hope to be a fellow of discretion. Still, I can say that the author’s kindness, her thoughtful words, and specific thanks took away all thoughts of a tough week. Instead, I was reminded of the genuine good that underpins education, and the amazing people who join together to teach kids.
As magical as reading the letter with my name at the top was paging back through the journal to read what other adults on campus had written to each other. Teachers, secretaries, custodial staff, and instructional aides had all had a turn. Their voices in print, some accompanied by sketches or stickers, rang out peals of appreciation. I felt proud and pleased to add my verse to the growing poem of thanks.
I’m not sure where the WOW journal is now, but I know that when I needed it, it was there for me, and I hope that whoever has it today gets as much joy as I felt when I found it on my desk.
Cheesy? Sure. Great things sometimes are. Amazing? Indeed. Just like the staff who made it.