Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Principal's Office: Home Sweet Home...

A new school year will begin in a few weeks.  Teachers will soon return to the classrooms to prepare.  There will be in service days, convocations, and lots of meetings.  A new crew of kids will begin the K-12 portion of their educational journey.

But this year there will be no calls from the principal telling me that my son threw a rock at another child on the playground.  Randall confessed to that infraction as a 5 year old in 1994, but felt no remorse.  He compared himself to David facing Goliath. And when I didn’t buy that story, he reminded me that police officers only use force to defend themselves, and not to purposely harm someone. And of course he quoted me as he referenced that principle.   That was my first visit to see the principal on behalf of one of my children, but not the last one by any means.

In 1998, a first grade teacher told me in a conference that in essence that Daniel operated to the beat of a different drummer.  It was not intended as a compliment. I scheduled a meeting with the teacher and the principal.  In looking back on it, I can see now why Randall was not shy in dealing with Goliath on the playground.  My approach to the teacher was direct and to the point.  I was not shy.  And that was my second visit to the principal’ office, but not the last one by any means.

By the time 2002 rolled around, Mitchell was in the first grade. How could I miss a visit to the principal’s office?  Apparently he got in a fight with another student, and it was one of those times that I actually thought poor Mitchell might just be right.  I put on my white dress shirt with a red tie.  And I wore a dark suit with that red tie.  I was going to approach the principal with an authoritative look.  She proceeded to invite me in her office and placed me in a tiny chair made for first graders situated in front of her desk.  I should point out that this particular principal was about 4’10” with high heels on. I looked a little silly in my dark suit and red power tie looking up at the principal from my first grader’s chair.  I was of no help whatsoever to Mitchell that day. It was my third visit to the principal’s office, but not the last one by any means.

And then there was a final visit to the principal’s office about that same time period.  Randall and on
 of his friends in middle school got in a fist fight.  There was really no hard feelings between them, but the principal called me to the school.  “Mr. Knox, are you familiar with ISS? “  (Short for In School Suspension)  I sat up straight and told him I was a charter member of ISS. I spoke with pride.  Sheryl Wallace and I were prison buddies at Monterey High School in 1979 during our stint in ISS.  He was not sure what to do with that comment… But it was my final visit to the principal’s office.

2014 rolled around way too fast. Randall is a college graduate.  He is writing scripts for potential movies and television shows.   Some of those scripts may include rock throwing.  Daniel is a college graduate too.  He too is the creative type.  He hopes to do some film directing. And Mitchell starts to college this fall.   I may get a call from the Dean of Students regarding Mitchell, but there will be no more calls from the principal. I am going to miss going to the principal’s office.  I started my visits there as early as early as 1967.  I wonder if those early visits prompted the later ones….. I still own a dark suit and a red tie just in case there is a student out there in need of an advocate…And I will gladly return as needed to the familiarity of the principal’s office.

Today I am grateful for the small army of public educators that helped shape my boys academically, socially, and ethically.  They were a blessing to our home for 20 years.  I am indeed thankful.  Blessings on the teachers and yes…the principals too. 

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