Finding purpose

I did something this time last week that I almost never do.  Perhaps it was the Thanksgiving “hangover” that came across in my principal’s message.  Maybe it was knowing what was waiting for me inside our school doors instead of a distraction outside of them.  It could have been the stress and pressure of already making Christmas travel plans before Thanksgiving dinner was even finished.  Or maybe it was because my adult son (jokingly) said my least favorite sentence in the English language earlier in the day. 

You know what I did?  I let something go.

We have new banners outside the theater entrance that were purchased by our PTO last summer, along with the wraps on our front columns and our parking lot signage.  They’ve been outside these doors ever since, rain or shine, standing until last week.  When I pulled in last Sunday for the afternoon, the signs were on the ground and begrudgingly, I headed that way.  Then I stopped, headed into the building, and said let’s just see. 

When I pulled in this afternoon?  Untouched.  In over a full week of school, drop-offs and pickups, and after school practices and activities.  How many parents drove by this sign over the week?  How many students stepped on or over it?  How many staff members came in and out of this entrance last week?  No matter how many it was, each one of them thought the same thing that my son verbalized last week: 

That’s not my job.”

It’s really not about the banner.  Or parents and families.  Or another thing on an overwhelmed teacher’s plate.  It’s about where we are as a community and a society.  How on earth did we get here?  How have we become so completely self-consumed?  To only see the world how it affects us instead of others?  To not take 30 seconds out of your day to do something for someone else or because it’s the right thing to do?  And most frighteningly for me…do we have any hope this changes? 

I still believe that one source of hope is public education.  Our profession is one of the last bastions of selfless service in the United States (other than the military).  While far from perfect, it is a place where individuals come together to work towards goals that benefit not only themselves, but the greater good.  And as long as that remains our vision, this is the kind of place where I want to belong.  In this season of giving and our last weeks of school, let’s be about the business of building up and supporting others, seeing the good that is there, and making things better than we found them!

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