On my final day on Diegueño’s campus I cut through a narrow storage room to deliver an apple fritter to my head custodian. More a hallway than a real room, it’s a place to store PE clothes and old files that aren’t confidential. A couple of TVs gather dust beneath the last remaining chalkboard on campus.
I’d been through here a hundred times, but on this morning, tinged with the emotions of leaving a school I care deeply about, I saw something that hadn’t been there before: a pirate.
I know that I am proudest of the people I helped to hire. The true positive difference I’ve contributed to at the school is the amazing teachers working with kids who came to the school on my watch.
But these educators’ legacies are their own, and my thoughts turned to what contributions I’d made in my year on campus. Certainly I’d done my best to nurture a sense of family within my staff and school, encouraging connections, valuing relationships, and celebrating kindness. The roots of community are deep, and I believe the tree will continue to grow, but as with so many things, I was just one gardener. The legacy of the Diegueño Family is its own.
I worked hard to have fun, and to bring an attitude of whistling at work to Diegueño. This meant playing badminton on the lawn with teachers and parents, bringing ice cream sandwiches to teachers in rooms without air conditioning, and teaching students how to draw a pirate. With a rumbling “Arrr!” that sketch on the chalkboard suggested some of it had stuck.
At least for a little while.
Ultimately Diegueño continues without me just as well as it had before me. My time as steward to the school changed me more than I changed it. For a few people: students, teachers, and parents, I hope I made a difference, an act of kindness or support, something that helped make their lives a little better. In the end it’s often those small and true acts that matter most.
Legacies are funny things. I don’t look to have my name on a plaque; I simply hope that I’m thought of, when I’m thought of, as a person who made a positive difference in someone’s life. I move through the world with the goal of helping, and if I’m remembered (with fondness or frustration) I’m at peace with the fact that many of those memories will disappear with time as surely as a pirate drawn in chalk.