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Peter DeWitt's

Finding Common Ground

A former K-5 public school principal turned author, presenter, and leadership coach, DeWitt provides insights and advice for education leaders. He can be found at www.petermdewitt.com.

Education Opinion

A Blog About Finding Our Happy Place...

By Peter DeWitt — May 31, 2013 2 min read

In early May, Bob Sampson, the Principal of the Bellingham Christian School in Bellingham, Washington wanted to give his students a chance to relax and focus on life outside of school. He gave them a...sun day.

According to the Associated Press, “Principal Bob Sampson said he wanted to give students some time to re-energize and enjoy the weather, adding that he wanted to re-create the excitement snow days get among the kids.

The thought that comes to mind with a day like this is...what about the parents? The AP reported that, “Sampson surveyed parents to make sure the day off wouldn’t cause any hardships, and he floated the idea with the School Board before canceling school, he said. The 22 staff members also got the day off, he added.”

Sampson did, however, give the students a bit of homework. “The principal asked students to take pictures of what they did on their sunny day off. He plans to show the pictures at an assembly Monday.”

Finding Your Happy Place
What Sampson did was more than just give kids a day off. He provided them with a break from their usual day. His decision showed students that what they do outside of school is as important as what they do inside of school.

The reality is that this year has been hard for schools but it doesn’t have to be as hard as we make it. We can still find the joy in some of the things we do. We have to...because our students are counting on us. If we aren’t finding some joy, they won’t find it either.

Recently, I presented at an elementary school near where I live. It’s a high performing district with great teachers, students and parents. This particular building is led by a principal who cares deeply for her community. It’s the kind of school that you would want your students to attend.

I know the district well because I have friends who work there. Best of all, it was where I student taught with a guy who was not only my mentor, he made me realize that I could teach the way I wanted to. I emulated what he did and he was a major influence on my career. He inspired me.

As I stood in front of the staff with my creative Prezi, we began talking about the issues we face in education and trying to make sense of it all. I jokingly called the presentation, “Finding Our Happy Place.” It sounds odd that we can find our happy place during all of this craziness but we can. Life is too short not to keep learning.

Our Students Can Help
No matter how bad things may be from a state level, it’s hard to ignore the faces of our students. It’s one of the reasons why principals need to walk into every classroom, every day. E-mails, phone calls, and budget conversations can get leaders down, but the faces of students can help bring them back to why they choose to work in a school every day. We have to keep fighting to make sure that school is still our happy place.

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The opinions expressed in Peter DeWitt’s Finding Common Ground are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.

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