The following article is written as a narrative given one teacher’s path to finding education and the remarkable people he met as the result of this journey. A clear point will be made in the end.
For one young fellow college was a confusing time simply because of the infectious way professors taught their classes and made it seem as though their discipline rose above all. To this uncertain student, it caused him to graduate having had many majors by the time he actually had his degree in hand. Add to this that he took time off from college to work for five years in broadcasting, and suddenly a four year degree turned into nine year degree. But during his broadcasting sabbatical from college, this young man found that he carried not one, but two novels with him wherever he went, and was reading three more at home. The strength of the call of literature was so strong that the young man left his broadcasting career and returned to college. He started taking semesters of literature courses. Sometimes he was reading fourteen novels at a time. And this suited him just fine. A meeting with his advisor revealed that he was ready to graduate with a degree in English Literature, which he gladly did and secured a teaching job at a middle school in Baltimore City.
But this narrative is not about this young man, entirely. The point is that along his path he had many bosses, station directors, producers, music directors and so on. But it was not until a career in education did the term “leadership” finally become realized. At the time of this article an attempt was made to secure permission to use the names of the individuals. Unfortunately one name was nowhere to be found.
The young man climbed the granite polka-dot gum covered stairs of the city middle school not knowing what to expect. After stopping by the main office he was directed down the hall to the Principal’s office. The door was wide open and he was greeted immediately from a voice behind the desk “Mr. so, and so, you are prompt and to me that says a lot about a man. I am Mr. so, and so, please have a seat. Before we start tell me about yourself”. The young man was immediately impressed by the gentleman’s welcoming style, his deep resonating voice with a hint of a French accent resonated in the small office. He was of African descent, tall, but thinly built, and impeccably dressed. He was a man whose physical appearance and speaking ability exuded confidence.
The young man completed his internship there, was hired to the position of Technology Coordinator, and finally Language Arts teacher. It was in moving from technology into the main classroom when the young man was in a meeting with the school principal. The principal looked him in the eye and stated that “I do not judge a man by the man himself, rather I judge the mettle of the man.” It was after this statement that he was offered the Language Arts position.
Those in leadership positions carry the weight of the world on their shoulders. The more conscious they are of the success and feelings of the employees they oversee, the heavier that weight is. For those who are not concerned of others, well, they float. This young teacher was so impressed by the order in which this Principal, just by being the person he was, kept control in his right pocket and respect in his left. He did nothing to try to gain respect. His mannerisms, voice, demeanor, the whole package made the man great. From the teacher’s perspective, knowing that this leader was at the helm, brought forth a sense of calm, and a determination to emulate his principal. This affected the young man, normally late for everything, to be early every day, to be the best teacher he could be, to treat the students not how he felt they should be treated, but by how the principal would have treated them himself.
He learned a great deal about himself working for this man. He would have followed him in battle. There were days at an inner city middle school when he did follow him into battle. But sadly the time had to come to an end. The young man wanted to teach Literature and utilize his acquired knowledge of broadcasting, and moved on to another school system. Never forgetting the important things he had learned.
The young man has been working for St. Mary’s Schools in Maryland for 11 years now and has had a wonderful career. He has been able to teach literature and mix in his knowledge of broadcasting to his students. Many of whom are now working full time as reporters, Sports reporters and Anchors on stations across the country. He has worked with a variety of Principals, Administration, and school Board personnel. None, unfortunately, as amazing as the man from Baltimore. His enthusiasm started to wane a bit, though he tried desperately to keep the teachings of his early mentor alive and well. But somewhere along his tenure a new Superintendent of Schools was hired by his county.
At the beginning of the school year in 2005, as the entire school system was gathered at the gymnasium of St. Mary’s College of Maryland, and an MC brought each school to a fever pitch, they were asked to welcome the new Superintendent of St. Mary’s County Schools, Dr. Michael Martirano. The young man sat back willing to listen, though keeping a shroud of doubt present in his shirt pocket. Never thinking that new leadership would make things worse, rather, that hoping things get better too often leads to disappointment.
As Dr. Martirano started to speak, in the middle of thousands of school employees, and dressed in a very handsome suit, his hair groomed well, showing a few sage wisps of gray, though elegantly proceeding through his forties, it was immediately known that here was a man of vision, not happy, but excited to be where he was, excited for the school system, excited for each teacher. His enthusiasm was contagious for those who think and feel. And at a distance it was immediately evident that this was a man one could walk up to and shake his hand, and receive a kind and encouraging word. The young man sat in amazement enraptured by every word. Titillated by the aspect of a forward thinking leader. A new era had begun, not only for the school system, but for the young man as well. His enthusiasm had stopped waning, it had, in fact, started waxing.
It is not the man or the woman that can capture the attention of a school system. It is something unnamable. It is a characteristic that one may only recognize if he truly hungers for it. Knowing that a leader possesses this “consciousness” directly influences the classroom teacher. It enables them, it provides a sense of security, a belonging. These special people have a true calling. They have the perfect mix of everything that is needed to be an “entity”, as “person” almost does not explain what they are or represent. They have a truer calling. It is a pleasure to know these people and to have learned from them. And our young man is perfectly happy in his job and even has the chance to write for an online news magazine from time to time.