This morning I overheard the following conversation between my oldest two daughters (Riley and Olivia). I’m not sure what they were doing, but I know that their responses in the conversation are perfect glimpses into who they are as individuals.
Olivia: Are you ready? Wow, you’re getting good at that!
Riley: Yep. I’ve been practicing. Are you ready?
Olivia: I was born ready!
Classic Riley, preparation is her secret weapon (like mine). Classic Olivia, her confidence produces a swagger that is undeniable. Truth be told, Olivia probably was born ready for anything and Riley can do anything she puts her mind to. Word to the wise for parents, spy on your kids from time to time. You’ll be amazed at what you hear and profoundly impressed at the people they’re becoming.
On another note, this week also marked the passage of several new frontiers for our family, mostly dealing with school. For years Riley has attended a local public charter school almost since it’s inception. This past year we moved Olivia there to join her in hopes of this becoming our family school. It has struggled at times gaining its momentum, but we believe it may have found its footing with a new school leader that our community seems to have rallied around. There are all kinds of signs of positive momentum including a newly engaged board, a waiting list that still contains hundreds of families clamoring for the opportunity to get in on the lottery, and of course construction is always a good sign. On Friday we broke ground as a school on a new building that will house our middle school, fully providing space for all of our k-8 students. (This by the way is one of the reasons we were attracted to this school- the opportunity for our children to grow within a single educational community for a long period of time).
This week also marked the passing of the torch. A teacher who has been with us since the beginning, having taught both of our daughters, is leaving. It’s sad news for us and we’ve struggled to reconcile our thoughts about this. The day I heard the news I was shocked and furious. As a parent I wanted answers. I attended the school board meeting that night and got on my soapbox about staff culture. I was concerned that our school leader was too cavalier with his responses to parents about their concerns (especially given that this is a trend of multiple teachers leaving mid-year). I shared these concerns directly with the board and then privately with our school leader. I also offered to lend my services to the board for our strategic planning efforts as a way to rally the troops.
The truth of the matter is, I was simply hurting and looking for answers, worried about what the future might hold. Any time a teacher leaves it impacts a family. The day we told Olivia the news she cried. The next day Olivia came home and told us that she loves her new teacher (problem solved I guess?). A memory verse that I’ve been meditating on this week has been Jesus’s admonition to the disciples, give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes. (Matthew 6:34 Message Translation).
As I sat at the groundbreaking ceremony yesterday looking out at the crowd of families, community members, and students, it hit me that something great is happening right now. I listened to the history of how the school was founded by a determined group of parents and community leaders. I heard the various obstacles they faced and overcame to get us to this point. Afterwards, walking through the campus, I thought about how this really was the realization of a dream come true for our community. It reminds me of the line from the tv show The Office, “I wish there was a way to know you were in the good old days while you’re in them.”
After the ceremony I decided to pop into Olivia’s classroom to say goodbye (today was her teacher’s last day) and the new teacher greeted me at the door. When she introduced herself I was surprised because her’s was a familiar face! I’ve known and seen her around for each of the three years that we’ve been a family at this school. I breathed a sigh of relief when I made the connection. Maybe everything will be alright after all, I thought as I walked away. Now, thinking back to the conversation I overheard this morning, I’m sure that whatever the future holds, Riley will be prepared, Olivia was born ready, and for the others to follow they’ll fall right in line too.