Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Unspoken Promise

Guest post by Jacob Gutnicki

As the sun rose, Superintendent Williams walked outside his house with much on his mind. He did not sleep well last night, as he had to carry through a very difficult decision. In a few hours from now he would shock the community. He would resign from the position of Community Superintendent. He could only imagine the rumors this announcement will inspire.
Matt Williams took a walk and reflected all that happened during his tenure as Superintendent. For seven years he worked tirelessly to change how schools educated children. After much deliberation and discussion he had convinced the community that “we need to look beyond the exams and look inside the child.” That mantra started the change in which schools began to focus on life skills and moved away from the test prep mentality. Numerous schools developed career programs, internships, partnerships with colleges, as well as other interesting opportunities. Numerous education publications lauded his reform efforts.

However, there were several schools that refused to change their ways. One such school was the Burrhus Frederic Skinner High School. Every step of the way Principal Wallstone refused to listen to the Superintendent. She also openly criticized his policies at school board meetings arguing “that monthly testing is the key to student progress.” Additionally, she had business leaders defending her practices making it very difficult to effectuate change at her school.

Despite it all, Superintendent Williams was pleased with the progress his schools made. The Thomas Elkins School of Invention was off to a good start. The school was offering programs and services to high needs students and has been well received by the community.

All of this became irrelevant in the last 24 hours. Yesterday he learned that his youngest son might be grappling with epilepsy. Perchance his son’s school took them to the zoo. When he spoke to the school, the teacher and the aide gave differing accounts of what happened. Additionally, his son recently started taking medicine to manage his on-going problems with Attention Deficit Disorder. Needless to say the recent sequence of events complicated matters. Superintendent Williams was wracked with guilt wondering if he could have done more to help his son with his Attention Deficit Disorder issues. He wondered if the medicine was the right choice and worried that his son may have a mild case of epilepsy. At the same time, he vexed what would happen with the school district in his absence. Ultimately he knew that his child’s welfare deserved his full attention and that he could no longer continue in the position of Community Superintendent. Matt knew that he must keep the unspoken promise every parent makes; protecting their kin by any means necessary.

And so it was. Matt Williams looked at his watch and noted it was time to go. He kissed his wife goodbye, jumped in his car, and headed off to face the media.

“All my life I fought this fight
The fight that no man can never win
Every day it just gets harder to live
This dream I'm believing in”
--Bruce Springsteen, The Promise

Coming Soon- Every Thorn has its Rose

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