How was I to know just what kind of educator he would be and how he would influence and inspire my whole family, let alone hundreds of others.
Gregg Curless, beloved Pattison Elementary principal, is retiring next week. It hardly seems possible. Yesterday, I attended the volunteers' tea, where the school pulls out all of the stops to say thank you, and he hosted. I specifically went because it would be my last chance, perhaps, to see Mr. C and say goodbye.
I greeted him with a big hug and said, "This has got to be surreal."
"It is," he responded. "I feel like this (retiring) is happening to someone else. I remember my first day as a principal, walking into the hallway with a clipboard and wondering what I was doing. I think June 1 (his first official day of retirement) will be the same."
|Pattison Principal Gregg Gurless where he shines best: in the midst of students|
I know with certainly that my girls are better people because of Mr. C. They felt recognized and affirmed by him and were utterly nurtured by his wise and skillful staff. Sure, there were a few bumps in the road, but Mr. C was always available with a groundedness and genuine love of being an educator that took the sting away.
As a parent, I am biased. He loved my children, but not just mine: he loved them all. He always showed genuine appreciation for any volunteer work I offered, adored seeing my husband at lunch regularly and praised the products of our parenting. And, he approached everything with a wonderful sense of humor.
I never heard an unkind word from staff members, which is pretty amazing given that he was their boss. They respect him. One of them on the new-principal-selection committee said she felt honored to help fill his shoes because he had been such a blessing.
When my oldest went to the junior high, she was stunned that the principal wasn't out in the hall everyday roaming among and greeting students by name. Well, honey, I said, this is junior high and Mr. Curless is not the principal here.
I will never understand how one person can have a memory bank that accommodates 700 names, plus those of parents and siblings and seems to grasp each family's structure. I can't even remember what I had for dinner last night.
Mr. C once shared a great story about one of my favorite neighborhood kids. Of course, the kid did something a little daring, but what the principal remembered was that he was honest about the action and that it really was funny, although I'm certain the child never knew he thought that. He understands people, how to motivate them and play to their strengths. Such a gift that has been given over and over, year after year.
I think it's time for your recess, Mr. C! Thank you.
• How has an educator inspired you?
• Who has been the Mr. C in your/your child's life?
• How can we acknowledge and show gratitude to those people?
• How are you a better person as a result?
• How do you experience the ripple effect of that nurturing?
My class this
it a practice
a way of
for the past
after next week
lives on in
IF YOU HAVE A MR. C STORY, PLEASE SHARE IT IN THE COMMENTS BELOW
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