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LEGACY AS AN EDUCATOR

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I've had the honor of being in the field of education for 17 years and 12 of those years are working in the Office of Human Resources in my school district.  I remember my first year teaching and my first superstar moment in Wal-Mart.  Every teacher has this moment.  Your superstar moment is when you are walking down an aisle in a grocery store or other location, minding your own business and you hear a giggle in the background or a "that's her".  When you turn around it's one of your students pulling on a parent or a friend and pointing at you.  "That's Her (or Him), Ms. (Mr.) __________, my _________ teacher."  It's a strange and special moment because that child noticed you and you as an educator stopped traffic in the store.  It's not a Gossip Magazine paparazzi experience where a photographer ask you "What designer are you wearing today?' or "What are you purchasing today?" But it's really one of the most heartwarming experience you'll ever have.

Now because I've been out of the classroom so long, it is normally someone who is serving me in a restaurant or applying to teach in my school district.  They're not really superstar moments anymore as much it is the look of; I think I know that lady, on their face and the question, "Did you teach at Southeast Middle School?" Followed by the response, "Yes, I did".  I guess what makes it not so much of a superstar moment is the fact that they are grown adults, with children saying, "She was my 8th Grade Social Studies Teacher".    Maybe it's the vanity of "I don't look the same way I did in 2001?"   There are moments when I hope to be recognized because I thought I was that person's favorite teacher and there are times when I'm not looking my best and I hope no one recognizes me. In reality it is still very heartwarming and wonderful to see my former students whether they recognize me or not. 

Friday, November 18th, my father is retiring from the field of education after 29 years of service as a Business, Homebound and Special Education Teacher, a Coach, Athletic Director, and Dean of Students.  He's worn multiple hats, as an educator but there is no denying that his legacy is an amazing one.  I've watched my father over the year's impact the lives of young people with awe and envy.  Some people have the gift of building relationship with young people through holding them accountable and having genuine concern about their future and wellbeing.  It's not that my father is perfect educator, but he modeled the kind of educator that I honestly want to be.  He has a great legacy as an educator.

Last weekend, I was visiting with my grandmother who worked in education for 38 years and one of her former students came by to see her.  This former student is the current Superintendent of Schools in the district and I watched in awe their relationship, respect, and conversation.  My grandmother was the first in her family to attend college and she served in multiple capacities as an educator in the same school district.  She broke down barriers and the glass ceiling being one the first African American district level administrator in her school district.  At 82 years old, she still can hold a conversation about instructional practices and educational leadership better than anyone I know. She has a great legacy as an educator. 

Coach John Wooden, one of the most acclaimed college basketball coaches in history wrote:

A leader, particularly a teacher or coach, has a most powerful influence on those he or she leads, perhaps more than anyone outside of the family. Therefore, it is the obligation of that leader, teacher or coach to treat such responsibility as a grave concern. 

I consider it a sacred trust: helping mold character, instill productive principles and values, and provide a positive example to those under my supervision.  

Furthermore, it is a privilege to have that responsibility, opportunity, and obligation, one that should never be taken lightly.

If you are just starting out in this field or if you are veteran educator, I encourage you to make decisions and base your actions on the impact they will have on the students you serve, the community you serve and this amazing profession you represent. 

Daphne Donaldson

Supervisor of Personnel Management - High Schools

Office of Human Resources

East Baton Rouge Parish School System

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