The power of our parents is undeniable. My own father Vic was part of my thoughts quite a bit last weekend.
Saturday morning I read former Principal and well known speaker/writer Eric Sheniger’s post regarding the enormous role his own parents had in his perspective on leadership. Eric has achieved great success as an educator and he rightly recognizes his parents’ role in that.
While my wife was trimming my beard Saturday, she commented how powerful my iPhone is (in playing Vince Gill’s latest on Spotify and providing a flashlight for trimming) and how much Victor Carozza would have loved the iPhone had he been alive. Vic was an electrical engineer and an early adopter of “packet radio” as an Amateur Radio operator, a forerunner of the Internet. When I grew my meager goatee nearly two years ago, I was probably doing it to commemorate my father who always had some sort of facial hair since he served in World War II.
But, what did I learn from Mom and Dad in preparation for my role as a school leader?
- I learned the ethic of hard work. I should be tired at the end of my work day, I often say to pre-service teachers and new employees. It’s a privilege to work in schools and serve the students and families of my community.
- I learned that showing compassion and care for all really trumps our own goals and success. If we’re not willing to put others first than any glory we achieve individually is meaningless.
- Never stop learning. My father was a voracious learner. In addition to all he absorbed within the engineering field, he took on numerous hobbies just for the joy of learning. He learned how to make wine, he developed into a decent woodworker (we still have some of his furniture in our house), and even received a certificate to practice tax preparation but never used it professionally.
If you’re a new parent, don’t underestimate the power you have to mold your little ones. Your influence has potency.
If you’re a new school leader, be aware that your values will not always line up with what your students embody from their folks. It’s OK. Don’t stop working with parents, make your case, but do so with understanding.