One of the best parts of being a high school principal is the unexpected nature of the job. You’ll hear administrators like me say that we don’t like surprises, but the truth is that when those surprises don’t involve backed up toilets, erroneous fire alarms, or substitute teacher shortages, we love them. We love them because when all is tallied up, most of the surprises I see over the course of the school year are good ones.
They’re happening upon a student explaining to her peers how she made a video game in coding class. They’re turning a corner to see art students painting a teacher’s truck …with that teacher’s permission and to his applause. They’re seeing a student interrupt her walk to class to help a substitute pick up the papers from a folder he’d dropped.
Today two students stopped me on their way to class and handed me a piece of paper. “Here,” they said, pushing the folded square my way. “We think you should have this.”
As a site administrator, I’ve had students give me all kinds of information. Sometimes it’s concerning and leads to a disciplinary consequence, sometimes it’s celebratory and prompts a post on Facebook. Today was neither. Today was a surprise.
I took the paper, registered their faces in case I needed to follow up, and thanked them. The smile they shared with each other hinted at cleverness rather than doom.
Walking back toward my office, I opened the note.
Little surprises. Small kindnesses. Messages of love. These permeate schools quietly, filling the air between tests and classes, official events and ringing bells. Today’s note did more than make my day, it prompted me to reflect on just how often I get to see students and teachers, parents and staff, do something nice.
There are exceptions of course, but overwhelmingly the people I know who make education their life’s work, and the students who fill our campuses with their infectious energy, are kind.
I choose to celebrate this kindness. I strive to add to the positive spirit on my campus. And today I choose to take to more digital means to make good on that pleasant surprise handed to me this morning.
Take this post as a folded piece of paper telling you: “Ur beautiful. Make someone’s day. Pass it on.”