I think that many of us who become educators do so because we want our work to matter. We love children and believe that we can help to bring out the best in them, making a long-term impact on their lives and futures. We hope that our legacy will live on in each child’s success.
But as I begin looking toward retirement, I have been pondering a reality that I never imagined as a young teacher. While it is true that every adult in a child’s life influences him or her, there is another enormous transformation that occurs as a result of those relationships. The children we serve change us as individuals and educators in a profound and lasting way.
When we pay close attention — watching children’s interactions, hearing their concerns, seeing their needs, observing their growth — we transform, both personally and professionally. Our empathy deepens, our perspectives and understanding grow. We note when a child struggles with friendships, grins with pride, or speaks up with confidence, and those actions tell us more about how we are doing as educators than all the research studies combined.
Every student changes the dynamic of the classroom, informing our work and influencing the way we evolve as a learning community. A bump in the road for one child can mean that we reshape our practices and clear the path for all children who follow. In this way, and in so many others, each child we serve puts a personal stamp on our district, changing our collective future. It’s not so much about the children being part of our legacy; rather, it’s that we are a part of theirs.
I am so grateful for all I continue to learn from the students we serve each day. Thank you for allowing me to be a part of their legacy.
Benjamin H. Picard, Ed.D
Superintendent of Schools