As I sit and actually have time to think and reflect during the holiday season, I realize just how many precious gifts we give to our students and each other throughout the year. During the daily hustle and bustle, it's hard to pinpoint exactly why we feel like such a family or recognize the extent of what we give. Yes, sometimes we have our disagreements, but at the end of the day, we give rare gifts that are simply precious to those around us:
1. The Gift of Compassion-We may not have much on a teacher's salary, but the compassion for students I see whether we are trying to understand a student's rough day or difficult circumstances is beyond compare. And when we've gone through the worst circumstances ourselves, you guys love on each other to build one another back up and support one another.
2. The Gift of Mercy-It's seen in the moment you forgive a kid for really screwing up or on the day after they return to class and you choose not to remember what they did the day before. It's accepting that difficult apology or understanding that everyone messes up once in a while. There are so many of these moments. You guys are merciful.
3. The Gift of Knowledge-You people really know your stuff. Whether I'm sitting in a collaborative session discussing multiple interpretations of a text, watching you design a interdisciplinary project, noticing the students rewriting songs, or discussing your latest professional development unrequired read, it's clear you've got what it takes.
4. The Gift of a Beautiful Environment-Our halls sparkle. Wafts of orange citrus float through the hall air. The bathrooms are cleaned and stocked. Our classrooms are decorated with flair. We do everything we can to make our school home feel inviting during the eight hours a day our students are with us.
5. The Gift of Excellent Food-Whether they're peeling, baking, spicing, or sauteeing, one thing is for sure. Our cafeteria staff makes sure that our students are given the best each day, even with the friendly smiles they offer in the lunchline. And I see you sneaking the kids your own snack, even when you haven't eaten yourself. And for our staff? Our five star bulldog event planner Ms. Harrison and Ms. Wade take care of that. They threw such a lovely, gorgeous, tastly luncheon for us all. Thank you ladies.
6. The Gift of Time-You give, give, give your time until there isn't anymore to give. Whether it's staying after school to coach, tutor, offer academic recovery classes, or just listen to a student who is having a tough time, you are always there. And time is the one thing that can never be returned or gained back, but it doesn't stop you from giving everything you have to our students.
7. The Gift of Teammanship- Whatever it is that our kids need, you come together to serve them whether through academics or real life need. I watch you help one another and work together for the best of the kids, even giving up your personal preferences to serve them best. At the end of the day, you tell each other they rock and do things to communicate your support. Really, our team is more like a family.
8. The Gift of Perseverance- You experience amazing days. And you go through undelightful ones. But one thing does not change, you are STILL here for our students no matter how kind the days have been to you. And when a lesson doesn't exactly work out, you pour those tears of frustration into reflective ideas for change, and pull it off. We have the hardest-core, most dedicated staff around.
9. The Gift of Love-There's always that saying that someone would give their right arm for another person. In our building, I'd believe it to be true in a second. By watching those around me love, I have been taught an uncondional love for those around me and the students that runs deeper than I've ever felt before.
10. The Gift of Leadership-As I have watched the school and its leaders through the past seven years, one thing is clear: we have excellent leaders who truly love our children, the school and its legacy. They believe in their faculty, staff, and the students who come daily. But more than that, they offer a stability and unconditional love that is beyond compare.
As we celebrate the holiday season, I cannot help but feel so very blessed for the gifts that I have learned through watching you and observing the gifts you give to our students every single day. And perhaps we will never see the effects of these gifts earthside, but they are powerful and change lives, even if we cannot always see the immediate results. I hope that you will find a boundless supply of rest, energy, and time in the time that we have off. Thank you for all you do. You are quite literally, the best. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, Beach Bulldogs. You rock!