I am not an avid Facebook follower. I tend to look at it once or twice a week and then move on. However, lately I find myself glued to my screen, searching with interest through the numerous faces of young people graduating from middle, high school and college. Many of these graduates I was blessed to have as students during their elementary school years. They have grown, matured, changed. All decked out in their caps and gowns, some have changed so much that they are no longer immediately recognizable to me. Sweet cherub faces that morphed into young beauties and handsome young men; each of them certainly taller than when they left our fifth grade classrooms.
But as I actively searched out the names below each picture a million memories flooded in. Memories of shouting out to my students, “Readers are Leaders” and hearing their response of “And Leaders Read!” I can hear them singing “Fifty Nifty United States From 13 original colonies…” and I can still see their red faces as their Fun Run background music died out and they collapsed their tired bodies onto the grass. Those were amazing days.
I also remember the kids who were the natural leaders, the class clowns, the one’s who had tons of friends and those who struggled to maintain even one. Elementary school is a time of establishing those foundations upon which to build a strong inner personal structure. And it’s harder for some kids than for others.
As I reflected further, I also remembered the parents who stood by these amazing graduates. Success looks different for each child. Some grow to be high academic achievers, others explode on the athletic fields, while others find their joy as ballerinas, artists, scientists, actors, or musicians. And there are many who excel in more than one area.
But I truly believe that none of these students would have done as well without the parents who stood by their side. Moms are incredibly important, but since Father’s Day is almost here, I wanted to pay tribute to the dads who I saw make a difference.
Whether it was setting up for the carnival, reading in the classroom, preparing the field for our FUN RUN, driving their patrol car onto campus for kids to see or raising money for our school – these dads were visible leaders. They demonstrated their commitment to not just their child, but to all of the children of our school.
It’s important for young boys and girls to see adult men in action. And these fathers stepped up and acted as role models extraordinare while serving in a myriad of activities. Through their visible actions and commitment to their child’s school, they showed kids how to resolve conflicts, get along, be respectful, use humor in stressful situations and the importance of friendship.
In a time when work commitments require so much from adults, choosing to take a moment to get involved in a child’s school day can be quite challenging. It can also be life changing for both father and child.
The future success of our children rests in part with those dads who freely share of their time. But the glow from their actions often spreads across the entire school. Many of these dads will never know how much their positive interactions actually helped another child. Kids mimic what they see and when they see goodness shared, they are more apt to adopt those same behaviors.
So I honor you dads and I honor your wonderful sons and daughters as they move through their education. Hopefully when your child’s time come, and their own child needs a helping hand, they will remember what you once did and jump right in.
Happy Father’s Day to you all.