I have always aspired to make my parents proud. I worked hard in school growing up. When I got older, I wanted to get a good job and take care of myself. I wanted to accomplish great things. I wanted to share my accomplishments with my parents so they would be proud of me. The only thing I wanted my parents to say was, “Son, I am proud of you.” For me, that would be my greatest accomplishment. I felt an obligation to them to make them proud. I feel I can never repay what they had given me growing up, but I knew if they were proud of me then that would be close. There were times where I felt as though I disappointed my parents. Even in the low times, they never said they were disappointed in me.
I remember in my early 20s, I had a conversation with my parents after hitting in a low point. I was at a low point because I felt as though that I had let them down. I felt that I was a disappointment. To my surprise, my parents told me something that has stuck with ever since. My parents told me, “There is nothing I could do ever to disappoint them.” That reassurance allowed me to take a risk, but more importantly, it allowed me to flourish and prosper in my life.
Those words from parents meant the world. It was an example of how important a parents’ words are to their child. Parents are some of the most critical people in the lives of children. As I look at my students at school and see how hard they work, many of them, like me, are working hard for the approval of their parents. Regardless of anything, they just need and want that assurance that their parents are proud of them. As educators, we have an obligation and priority to make sure we establish the relationship with home. We must extend our arms to lock in togetherness with the parents of our students.
We must close the gap that exists between home and school. When the parents of my students pull up to the curve to drop their children off at school, there is something that happens at that moment. I open the car door and say good morning to the parent and at that moment they hand me their most precious gift. They trust that for the next six-plus hours that I will take care of their child. They believe I will protect them, educate them, feed them, discipline them, and love them until it is time for them to come and get them. That is powerful.
As the principal, I make it a priority to go outside every day whether rain, sunshine, or sun to unlock the school door and make my way down the long sidewalk to the curve. My first goal each day is to open the car door and greet the scholars and their parents. Sometimes it is just a quick “Good Morning,” or sometimes it is a longer conversation.
One particular morning, I was opening the door for one of my more difficult scholars. After opening the back door to greet the scholar, the mom from the front seat spoke first and said, “Good Morning Mr. McGuire.” I said, “Good Morning Mom. How are you this morning?” The day before, the scholar did not have the best day, and mom heard all about that afternoon when she picked him up. I had forgotten the conversation that we had, but it was fresh on mom’s mind. So, when she saw me that morning, she reminded me of that conversation. She went on about how she talked to him and was hoping for a better day. She made him repeat for me the goals they laid out for his day, and what he needed to accomplish that day at school. She ended the talk after the scholar had made his way halfway up the sidewalk to enter the school doors with, “Call me if you need me. You know I am just a phone call away, and I got your back.” Those were not just words. Mom was just a phone call away and did have my back when I needed her to get on the phone and have her whisper some words of encouragement or make a parental threat to get the young man to reshape his focus and correct his misbehavior.
That interaction gave me a renewed sense of hope that this was about a relationship. It was a relationship that was built on something very simple. Trust. Here was a mom who had the back of the school. She was saying I am here if you need me. If my scholar does not act accordingly, you can give me a call and I can help get him back on the right path. This was a reminder that parents want to have a relationship with the school. They want to be involved in their child’s education, and they are to be used as a resource.
Our parents deserve our trust because they trust us. They trust us with their most precious gift. They deserve our trust because they trust that we will educate their child. They trust that we will do whatever it takes to get that child on the path to a better life. They deserve our trust because they support the what we do. When parents trust the school and the school trusts the parents watch what happens to the children. It is something special.