Thursday, January 15, 2009


I find myself a little nostalgic as I ease my way into retirement. The one part of work that I will miss more than any other part is the people with whom I worked for the past 32 years or so. It wasn’t perfect—I can think of three people in 32 years who made my life a bit miserable when I let them. But when I consider that I’ve had hundreds of co-workers over the years,that’s a pretty small percentage.

So what made my co-workers so terrific?

First, I have been fortunate to work with people who have wonderful senses of humor. Always the first laugh of the day is with a co-worker or two at 6:30 a.m. Usually it’s nothing earth-shatteringly funny—just a way to connect at the beginning of a tightly scheduled day. A good laugh and a shot of caffeine make the walk down the hall to our 8 a.m. classes seem more like a skip down the Yellow Brick Road rather than the Bataan Death March.

Second, I have worked with generous people. We help each other, we bail each other out, we share information and materials,we row the boat together. We tell each other if we have spinach in our teeth. We all know that when one of us looks good, we all look good—and since teachers often aren’t the best-looking people in the world, we need all the help looking good that we can get.

Third, I have worked with people who really, truly want the students to succeed, even the less lovable ones. We all have different styles and we all do things our own way. But bottom line: the students are why we're here.

Fourth, we try really hard to resolve our differences. Sure, we mumble and mutter sometimes—but then we figure out how to get back on track.

Finally, I trust the people I work with. I think we all try very hard to follow the rules and do what is right. I think we all mean well, even when we make mistakes. I have been lucky to work with people who have honesty and integrity. I don’t worry that we’ll all look bad on the 6 o’clock news one night. We might screw up sometimes, doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, but our intentions are always good.

So that’s what I will miss the most—these young whippersnappers who will continue to go to work, even when I’m no longer showing up. They'll be carrying on the good cause and fighting the good fight!

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