The Greatest School Teacher

As a school administrator for 27 years, I had the good fortune to see great teaching on a daily basis. I supervised and evaluated some of the best teachers who ever lived. There is something special about a great teacher… a person who can inspire children and bring out the best in them.

The great teacher brings joy to the classroom. Happiness. The great teacher builds children up and makes each child thing he or she is the most special – because they are. They’re all special. The great teacher knows this. The great teacher celebrates and promotes this.

The great teacher makes learning fun. The great teacher has a way of getting children to believe in themselves. Amazingly, the great teacher seems to do this effortlessly, although, in order to do this, the great teacher puts in a tremendous amount of work before ever stepping foot into the school building or the classroom. This work takes place daily. It never ends. And it’s never a burden. When the work is for children, it is good work, it is necessary work, and the great teacher does all of this because it matters. She does this because the children matter.

And because of this great and necessary work, the great teacher matters.

The great teacher smiles and gives hugs. The great teacher brings out smiles from the children. The great teacher is the one that children see and instantly feel warm and secure inside. The great teacher cares and promotes caring in others.

It is easy to spot the greatest teachers. They are the ones who radiate joy. They are the ones who always seem to have children around them. They are the ones children run to or wave to across the playground. They are the ones that the children love.

Great teachers make children feel better with a kind word or a smile. They also know of the healing powers that come from a drink of water or an ice pack. Children believe in the great teacher because the great teacher is sincere. Her love of the children, her passion for helping them grow and thrive and succeed is genuine. It comes from the heart, and it is real. This love is also abundantly clear.

The great teacher touches lives, forever. And not just the lives of her students. She makes her school a better place by spreading kindness, empathy, compassion, and love. She sets a standard that others seek to reach, knowingly or not, as they see the tremendous positive impact she is making on precious lives every single day.

The great teacher is committed to her students, to her school, and to the profession. She knows her work matters. She invests all of herself in that work. This also brings her joy, but that’s not why she does it. She does this work because she knows that her work is eternal, that the children she is teaching and nurturing will remember this work, if not directly, but in their hearts, forever and that many, or most, if not all, will repay that great work countless times in the future.

Parents recognize that great teacher. They ask the principal for their child to be in her class because they know it matters. It’s an amazing thing to see parents crying at the end of the school year, not only because their child is growing, but because the special year their child had with the most wonderful teacher has come to an end.

Great teachers touch lives forever. They bring warmth and joy daily. And those feelings have a way, because they come from the heart, of lasting forever. We remember the people who most touch our hearts. The great teacher touches ours.

The great teacher has a way of helping children to learn and grow and thrive. Learning is difficult. It’s hard. Yet, the great teacher, through her efforts, encourages, supports, guides, and motivates – and learning takes place. In her care, children grow and learn, sometimes in spite of themselves. And before they know it, they’re reading, understanding math, figuring out scientific principles, and learning some of life’s biggest lessons.

The great teacher fosters an environment of trust. The children trust their teacher, they know she is sincere. And they know she cares about each of them.

The great teacher plays favorites. Absolutely. Always. And every child in the classroom knows that he or she is her favorite.

I have seen hundreds and hundreds of teachers across many schools and across all of the grade levels. I’ve observed them. I’ve evaluated them. I have been in awe of so many of them.

Great teachers make a difference.

I am so fortunate that I have had the privilege and the honor and the good fortune to see the greatest teacher of all-time. I’ve seen this teacher in the classroom working her special magic. I’ve seen her with her students outside the school, in stores, on playgrounds, and around the town. I’ve seen her lead small groups and large groups and find ways to teach others around a small table or under a tree. I saw her teach her own children, daily, in a way like no other. I’ve witnessed the genuine love and appreciation that has come from the parents of the children that have been blessed enough to be in her classroom. I’ve listened to the stories from appreciative colleagues and friends. I have seen the passion and the work she puts in on a daily basis to be the best teacher she can be – always growing, always thriving, always caring. Deeply caring.

The greatest teacher has made so many differences in so many ways that she’ll never be able to know.

I always wanted to be the greatest teacher, but I always knew that I would never even be in this teacher’s league. She was (and is) greatness personified.

That greatest teacher is my wife Laurie. She is the best of all time and has been for so so long.

After a wonderful and very special career, she is retiring. It is well-deserved. She made her mark time and again. No one taught like she did. No loved her students as she did. She was (and is) the most special teacher. She is the greatest I’ve ever seen and ever known.

The greatest teachers leave a legacy of caring and love behind. Laurie has certainly done that. She might be leaving her school and her profession, but the impact she has left on the hearts and the lives of countless others will last forever.

And ever.

Congratulations Laurie for a wonderful career. For being the best.

Because you are.

And always will be.


Today I Said Goodbye To The School I Love

My retirement from public K-12 education began today.

I was fortunate that there weren’t too many people there to see me as I left the building. I must have been a sight to see. A grown man, a guy in his mid-50’s, face full of tears and sadness, walking away from a school… my school; the school I led for 14 wonderful years.

I was, it is, it will always be, a special school – a magical place for kids and adults. It is a magical place even for the principal. It’s a special school, a school defined by caring and love and respect and kindness. It is a school where the teachers truly care about kids. And it is a school where the teachers find and create innovative ways to teach the children.

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It Is NOT About The Pretzels

Back in simpler times, when people could come in and out of a school, and teachers who are parents and grandparents often brought their children or grandchildren into the building, many would stop by my office to say hello.  I would often give those children a lollypop or a pretzel rod.  Sometimes two.  Or three.  Sometimes a whole handful (of lollypops, at least).   

In regard to the pretzel rods, there were two little children who visited me who thought these were the most delicious snacks they ever had.  They loved those pretzel rods.   

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A Selected List of The Best Books I Read in 2020

(A copy of this post can also be found at Start Spreading the News.)

I love to read. My goal each year is to read at least 30 books. This year I read 36 books. I am pleased.

When I read, I read. I don’t do audio books. I also don’t read off a kindle or any device. I’m old school. When I read a book, I actually read the actual book.

My reading tastes are somewhat eclectic. The subjects I tend to focus to most on are baseball, history, leadership/motivation, and spirituality. I also usually read a few novels along the way.

What follows are the books that I most enjoyed in 2020. (Not all are about baseball.) These are presented in the order in which I read them.

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Hearts, Not Hands

The other day I was making a congratulatory video for a great young man about to graduate from medical school.  This soon-to-be doctor is going to be amazing.  He is one of the best young people ever.  I have known him for a long time as I was his principal when he was in middle school.  

Time and life pass too quickly.  I cannot believe he is now almost a doctor.  

One of the special joys and delights of being an educator is seeing the great people your students grow up to be.  I knew this child was going to be very successful.  Even when he was ten-years-old, he was something special.  

As I recorded the short video message, I shared what I hope is the most important advice he receives as he heads off to a successful practice. 

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Teachers Affect Eternity…

I have told this story before, but it is one I love to tell.  It needs telling, as well. 

Especially in these times.

One of the most wonderful ministers of all-time, a pastor who preached from the heart, made church interesting, and even made God accessible, had moved on from our church.

There was an emptiness.  I felt it deeply.  The minister who had left was a man I admired greatly.  I was thrilled that he had been the man who married my wife and I.  We all missed him greatly…

Continue reading “Teachers Affect Eternity…”

The Humans of Teaching Podcast!

The newest episode of the Humans of Teaching podcast has been released!

This episode, #013 A Principal’s Principles, features Dr. Paul Semendinger who shares his great insights, philosophies, and more!

You can listen to this podcast through any of the following links: