At a family function over Thanksgiving break, my nephew, who is a father of two young children, asked, “What has changed for you over the years at HHCA?” After a few seconds of reflection, the following came to the surface in our conversation.
One of the things I have enjoyed over the years at HHCA has been the privilege of having one-on-one conversations with students. When I first began teaching in 1979, I viewed my role as being a friend to my students and my conversations with them seemed to fit that role. As the years passed, my conversations began to take on the role of a parent. More recently, as I turned 60, and in my quest to finish strong, I find myself taking on the role of a grandparent.
Whether a friend, a parent, or a grandparent, two of the most important characteristics I find crucial in any one-on-one conversation are those of love and listening. I want my students to know they are fully loved and valued. It’s only when you sit down and talk with people individually that you start to discover who they are or what they are like and the positive outcome is mutual trust and respect.
Jesus, in all his advice and encouragement, at times was viewed as a friend, a parent, and communicated with the wisdom of a grandparent. His propensity to love and listen is clearly demonstrated in John 9, where he heals a blind man. As one reads the story, rich in truth, one thing becomes perfectly clear: Jesus was the only person to come alongside a person who had been ignored all his life and gave the man both hope and healing. As the story concludes, the man who can now see was fully loved, valued, and listened to -- all the result of a Man who loved and listened as a friend, a parent, and grandparent.
As my nephew and I concluded our conversation, I just said, “My age may be a key factor in the way I view my role as a principal, but what I want to communicate has never wavered. I want all of my students to know they are fully loved, valued, and listened to each day.”