Executive Secretary - Amy Becker                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    
I was fortunate to have two particular experiences over the last month that reminds me why I (and ultimately we) do what we do. The first was actually an outcome of our need for additional substitutes and the second was an opportunity that was afforded through an invitation from a group of teachers. Both provided me insight and reminders of how precious our students are and how amazing our teachers are for the day-to-day work that they do!
Early in September, I saw the email that we were short a sub for a teacher at Forest Road. It happened to be a music position and, since that was a role I served in as my first teaching position, I checked my calendar and realized that I could help in the afternoon (actually the last two hours of the day on a Friday…the time is important to my learning lesson!) I arrived at Forest Road to begin my duties. The students were excited, filled with energy (with a lot of energy) and interested in who this person was in their classroom. Fortunately, I have a music background and we began with some singing and ended with some rhythmical clapping and call and response exercises, etc. Sitting on the floor with the first and second-grade students over the next two hours, seeing what interested them, working hard to keep them connected with the lesson and trying to ensure that learning still occurred, while fun, was not always an easy task. 
On Friday afternoon, at the end of the day, our young learners displayed energy and enthusiasm and worked hard to maintain a focus with this “substitute teacher.” Children don’t understand what the role of the Superintendent is, so that title generally doesn’t carry a great deal of weight with our younger students. This experience reminded me that we are really here for our students. They have lots to say, are open to learning new things, are generally very forgiving of mistakes in “how the regular teacher does it”, and really want to try their best. Teachers have to be on their best game for the entire time they are with students. As revitalizing as the students’ energy can be for adults, it explains why teachers are exhausted at the end of the day.  
The second opportunity occurred after I was invited by the first-grade teachers at Cossitt to come and talk about my role in the District. Always looking to get into classrooms, I immediately accepted and a couple of days later interacted with all the first graders at Cossitt. First, as noted in the above scenario, really, children don’t care about most titles. I never like to talk much about that, and talk more about my role, how my role exists to ensure principals and teachers have the resources they need so that our students can grow and become smarter each day. However, the really important conversations came during the Q and A time. 
I learned that almost every child wants more attention from the adults around them and would like the adults around them to put down their phones and pay attention to them (I am the last to judge on this topic. I wrote about this last year and my own struggles with CPDBBWA (cell phone distraction by blaming work addiction). The students affirmed that I am probably not alone in this area! I also learned that students are amazing at trying to problem-solve issues. This was very evident when I shared the story of growing up on a farm and having a pony that didn’t really like people to ride it and enjoyed riding under trees with low branches in attempts (usually successfully) knocking off said rider. The students had a ton of things I should have considered and need to think about if I am ever in that situation again. Moral of the story, children don’t care about what you really do for a living, but they care a whole bunch when you have a shared interest and they have an opportunity to come up with solutions. Kids want to know the adults around them are caring people who, while older, have similar life experiences to them. It really is about making and growing positive relationships.
I have probably not done either scenario justice in this short re-telling. Suffice it to say, teachers are amazing and have a tough job (not just during the last two hours of the day on a Friday), and students want and seek to create positive connections with adults and are amazing problem-solvers if we give them the chance. Thank a teacher and hug your kids every day. Take neither for granted! Happy Fall!