Friday, June 14, 2013

An Oakland Mills Farewell

It is the last day of school.  My husband is finishing his eleventh year as a teacher in the Howard County School System. I have just finished ten years teaching music and movement in the Howard County RECC Program.  Margo is finishing sixth grade, her first year in Middle School.

All of us are looking forward to the rejuvenating days of Summer vacation. I don't know what we would do without the time to recharge.  For some reason, the past school year has felt incredibly long. We have been inching towards the finish line.

I have worked on an academic schedule for my entire professional life.  Until recently, that meant getting an additional job for summers. Through all of Alice's childhood, I had a church job as a paid chorister year-round, as well.  Still, working on a school calendar has always meant certain seasonal rituals for me: end of the year activities, parties, farewells.

I have just learned that Oakland Mills Middle School will be saying farewell to Principal Shiney Ann John. She is being transferred as Principal of the new Middle School, known at present as Middle School 20.  We have only had one year to get to know her, but from my experience I can tell you that she has done a brilliant job at OMMS, and she will be missed.

Principals can make or break a school.  They set the tone for how the school operates. They set boundaries for how staff interact, how students are treated, how parents can be involved in their children's educational experience. Yes, the school system sets the overall goals, but the principal carries them out, either well or poorly.  Ask any parent or teacher; I am reasonably certain they will concur.

I pray that the new principal for OMMS will have the most important quality of all: that she will appreciate our school and its population, that she will be happy to be here. It would be easy to see our school as a set of problems to be overcome, or a rough spot in one's professional life that one must survive. How can we welcome her to our school and our Village in a way that will start her tenure on a positive note?

Farewell--may you fare well. Goodbye--God be with you. Interesting origins of words we use so often. Adios, Adieu--also a touch of the Divine. Hasta la vista--until we see each other again. A bientot--see you soon. As Mrs. John moves on to her next assignment, all are appropriate.

As we put this school year to rest, though, we may need a different word or phrase. We have faced our challenges, completed our work, and tied up loose ends. We are ready to let this year go, and carry the best of what we have learned with us as we move on. Perhaps it is best said as an exclamation of joy and relief.

Roll on, Summer!


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