Thursday, September 10, 2009

An elementary celebrity

Today I visited my daughter during lunch. She is in 1st Grade at a public school.

Halfway through the the lunch I noticed a small group of kids suddenly stand up and start waving frantically and shouting something. I looked in the direction they were waving but couldn't see anyone. And then almost instantaneously every single 1st grader in that lunch room was on their feet waving and shouting towards the same direction. I couldn't make out what they were saying. I craned my neck to look.

I mean it was crazy the reaction these kids were having. Their faces all lit up with excitement. The cafeteria monitor and other parents were all looking at each other in disbelief.

I was quickly racking my brain to think who could be out that window that they all recognized and were excited to see? A New Orleans Saint? (I mean several have kids at our school) Nah. They wouldn't all recognize a player that easily. Someone dressed in a character outfit? Eh. Maybe. But such a reaction? It was like they knew this person . . . Firemen in uniform? Could be but again, why the excitement that was so incredibly fast? Hanna Montana? It had to be someone like that based on their reaction.

Well, it was none of the above.

Who was this person that these kids were frantically waving at, on their feet pratically jumping up and down about seeing, chanting his/her name?

It was . . .
The retired principal of the school! Someone that they knew for 1 year (last year) as they were all 1st graders. I was shocked when she finally walked in. I thought these kids were going to explode if she didn't acknowledge them. She spoke a few words to one of the monitors and then took the lunchroom microphone they use to dismiss lunch and addressed the kids.

She proceeded to tell the children that even though she is retired she will be at the school every Thursday. She is going to take Violin lessons (the same ones they offer the kids - with the same teacher). She is also going to come into the lunch room like she used to and teach them French. Apparently, she did this with the kids during her years as principal.

So she got down to business and started teaching them French. And even gave them a homework assignment. To take what they learned that day (asking someone how they are doing) and applying it at home with their parents.

I met this woman many times last year. I saw her for what she was. The Principal. I encountered her outside the school a few times and she seemed nice enough.

But today I saw something else. I saw a woman who to these kids is a rock star. She is someone they truly admire, respect and love. And it made me proud to have my child at such a school where such respect, admiration and love is really a two way street.

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