Yesterday was an emotional time for me, with shocking ups and downs all day. The best experience was picking up the trophies, medallions, and ribbons for the Scholastic Awards Night which is coming up in two weeks. The worst was news that a friend and colleague, our school’s former principal, was seriously ill and had been hospitalized.
I was in Slidell, LA picking up the awards when I had a reunion with the store’s owners. Pre-Katrina, I did lots of business with them at their store in Chalmette, LA. When it was time to order trophies this year, I searched for them and was disappointed to learn that they had not returned to their store on Judge Perez Drive. Attaway’s Trophies was a family business and Ronnie, the owner, was wonderful to work with. I was never disappointed in our dealings. He could be counted on to get whatever we needed. The merchandise was always ready on time, usually earlier than the scheduled pick up date.
I had a chance to meet his wife, Janet, a local artist. I found their new location through a charter school connection with MLK charter. They asked about some of their best customers, former principals who had relocated after the storm. I took a stack of their business cards to share with friends who might be looking for awards for their schools.
While I was loading the 400+ awards into my car, I received a telephone call from my son. He had been reading a friend’s Facebook page and noted that the young man wrote that he was praying for his mother. My son called the young man—the son of our school’s former principal who left the school in December, following a painful period of decisions.
After hearing my son’s version of this mother’s health emergency, I called her husband. I still have her husband’s cell phone number programmed in my Blackberry’s address book, so I was able to talk to him briefly about her condition. Her husband, who worked for many years as a medical professional, carries the burden of knowledge about the possible outcomes. She is one of the healthiest people I know. She survived a serious operation. We are anxiously waiting for news of her recovery.
In spite of the separation when we parted ways professionally, I still care about the principal and her family. We had a close personal relationship for many years before problems arose five months ago. We have not spoken since she left the school. Once in awhile someone who knew of our close friendship will ask me if I had talked to her—did we “make up.” I have not; we did not. I regret that we have not been able to resolve our differences.
When I think about the hard work that I put into the organization of this school this year, I consider the cost to my personal life. It’s never been about money because I knew that Board members could not profit financially from the charter school. I “pay” for the opportunity to be on the Board. The sacrifice of time and energy, the stress and paperwork, and the hours of meetings and planning all come at a price. I consider the loss of friendship a high price to pay. It is no longer about who is right or wrong for me. It is what it is and we’ve moved on. However, I am praying that I will have a chance to talk with her when we are both ready.
Please join me in praying for my friend’s recovery and her family’s strength.
The opinions expressed in Starting Over: A Post-Katrina Education 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.