I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.
- William Penn
I first walked through the front doors of a suburban elementary school as its principal in 1969, the year man walked on the moon and the year of the birth of our first child. It was the decade of J.F.K.’s “new frontier” and the Peace Corps. My mission was to provide the best possible education for each child enrolled in my new school. Seven thousand “child years” later I exited proudly through the same doors, knowing I had given it my best shot.
Those sixteen years were filled with the satisfaction of observing and guiding children through the special wonder years of five to eleven; from one step out of nursery school to the proud leap forward into middle school. I had my share of joys and disappointments, challenges and barriers, but most of all, I had stayed the course of child advocate.
I have written the short pieces in this collection over the past 35 years to inspire and give “food for thought” to all those involved with and concerned about public education--from aspiring teachers-in-training and idealistic Teach For America volunteers to seasoned professionals, from younger parents with school age children to older parents whose grandchildren are the next generation of school children. I hope my “message” will reach the educational decision makers, citizens and taxpayers throughout America who understand that the state of our local schools is second only to the family in determining the vigor and health of their communities and the nation.
Thus I invite you to join me on my journey of rediscovery back into the last millennium. This is neither a diary nor a chronology but rather kaleidoscopic glimpses through my eyes, heart and mind into the life and times of those schools and communities where I spent the better part of six decades.
When you arrive at the end of the journey, you may in fact find that it’s a beginning. You alone will have to decide where you are and glean what you wish to take home with you. You, not I, will construct the particular meaning this book has for you. After all, that’s what learning is all about!
Excerpted from Teaching as an Act of Love: Thoughts and Recollections of a Former Teacher, Principal and Kid.