It is incredibly easy to get bogged down in the day-to-day responsibilities we have as principals. Although each day presents different challenges, a recurring theme emerges: An incredible amount of work to do, and not nearly enough time in the day to do it… I had the opportunity recently to stop and remind myself why we do what we do, to share an incredible bond with like-minded educators, and to be reminded that what we do as educators each and every day is not only important, it is imperative in keeping our society moving forward.
On December 14th, 2012, countless lives were shattered when a gunman entered an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut and took the lives of twenty-six human beings. As a principal, it hit me that this really could have happened anywhere, and I considered the security measures we have in place. As a former teacher, I thought of the absolute horror that these brave teachers must have experienced, and I shuddered. As a parent, I couldn’t even begin to imagine the utter devastation, and I grappled with the question of how something like this could even happen. And my mind swirled with questions… How do they move on? How can we keep our kids safe? What could I do to help to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again?
I have seen time and time again, that our citizens, in times of considerable heartache, band together in a show of strength against those who might do, or wish us, harm. Despite the helplessness so many felt, individuals began to forge ways to assist in the healing process.
On January 11th, I received an email from our Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Brian J. Blake. It read in part, “Good morning, A friend of mine has organized a running/walking event in Gilford, NH on April 14, 2013… I know we have a lot of runners on staff in the district and I would like to invite you to join me in participating in this event…” This sparked a way for many of us to help.
Dr. Blake’s friend is Danielle Bolduc, the principal of Gilford Elementary School in Gilford, NH. Danielle wanted to do something for the victims, and joined forces with Robbie Bruce, the founder of 26.4.26. The idea was to run 26 miles, as a team or as an individual, for the twenty-six victims from Sandy Hook Elementary. Each mile would be dedicated to a specific victim. Each runner would run in the memory of one of the victims. The concept was altogether stunning and breathtaking in what it represented.
I was very proud to join a team of incredible first and second grade teachers and our superintendent. Some of us run. Others did/had not. All would participate and do what they could (or a little more). Every mile would be important, and each of us would run for his or her own reasons.
One thing would bind us together, though. We, staff members at Memorial School and of the Sanborn Regional School District would work together to accomplish our goal and help to maybe ease the pain for someone, somewhere. We, along with the other 1,766 runners also demonstrated that, despite the evil that rears its head in our world, there is far more “good” to push it back to where it belongs. This can’t, and won’t be erased by the senseless acts of anyone, and this group of mostly educators formed from 78 school districts from New Hampshire and beyond raised $31,000 one mile at a time to remind each other of that.
On Sunday I ran with a reminder on my shoe. Charlotte Bacon was a six-year old girl who was taken from this earth so cruelly and unjustly four months ago. But her legacy lives on. I didn’t know Charlotte, and I don’t know her family, but I know that what she stands for to me is hope, innocence, and kindness (there is a fund in her memory called “Newtown Kindness”). These are ideals that we as educators strive to instill (or keep intact in the case of innocence) in our work with kids every day. Thank you, Charlotte. You gave me a boost at mile marker 1.
And thank you, Amy, Jill, Gail, Trisha, Samantha, and Brian. Thank you for joining me in an experience greater than any of us, and one I will not soon forget. Thank you for carpooling up to Gilford and injecting humor and humanity into our experience. Thank you for helping to remind me why I chose to become an educator. Thank you for continuing to touch lives every day.