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I Said Yes

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I can't today.

Sorry, I have a meeting.

I wish I could.

This is just a sampling of the responses I give students when they ask to eat lunch with me. I wish I didn't have to. But the nature of my job is such that it is very rare that I have 20, let alone 30, consecutive minutes to sit down and eat lunch with a student.

And so I hate to commit to eating lunch with a child because I know that at any second I could be called to a classroom because a child is struggling and the teacher needs my assistance. I have read and heard that we should not allow what is urgent to take precedence over what is important. Like sitting down and eating lunch with students.

But the urgent matters that I often get called for are ones that must be handled right away. Or the learning in the room can't continue. And so I go when and where I am called.

I realize that this is not a situation that is unique to me. And it's not as if the people that I work with have it better. It's just frustrating. That's all. Okay, whine time is over.

But last week I was asked to eat lunch. By a student who asks me almost everyday. By a student who is simply put, a beautiful soul. And you know what?

I said yes!

I had the best time. She got to share with me how and why her day was AWESOME and I got to just sit back and listen about why. It was wonderful. I showed her some videos of my kids that I thought she might enjoy and she smiled and seemed to enjoy watching them just as much as I did.

We had to stop a few minutes early because I was called to a room. But to get to spend 25 minutes eating lunch and connecting with this student made my day. She makes me smile. Because no matter what seems to be happening around her, she is always happy.

She is often in the rooms that I get called to. To deal with the urgent. And yet it doesn't seem to phase her.

She continues to ask me to eat lunch with her.

Despite the fact that I have to turn her down almost every single time.

Why hasn't she given up on me?

Why does she keep asking?

Doesn't she realize that my office is often filled with angry, aggressive and sometimes violent children? She must know. And yet...

Maybe she is trying to teach me something that I have yet to figure out.

I have the magnet. I share the quote with those that I feel could benefit from hearing it. But am I following my own advice?




It does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of those things and still be calm in your heart.


As she was leaving my office and preparing to dump her tray, she asked me if I was going to be still be at school at 4 o'clock. She was going to be practicing a song for her after school group. I can't remember if I was or not. But I do know that I missed it. And that is a shame.

I would have loved to have should have been there.

I must start making time more often to eat lunch with this student. In my position there will always be noise and trouble and hard work. But I must do a better job of finding peace. And spending time with people who have already figured this out is a great way to start.


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Jon is currently the assistant principal in Dorchester County, Maryland. This is his seventh year serving as an assistant principal at the elementary level. Prior to becoming an administrator he served as a Math Coach and an elementary school teacher. During his ten years as a classroom teacher he taught first, second, fourth and fifth grades. During his sixth year teaching he earned Nationally Board Certification, which he held for ten years. For seven years he ran a Young Gentleman's Club that was aimed at helping young men reach their full potential.  

Jon received a B.A. from Furman University while majoring in Philosophy. He later went on to earn his B.S from Salisbury University while majoring in Elementary Education. Jon was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to student teach in New Zealand. He eventually received his M.A. degree from Salisbury University in Public School Administration.

Jon lives in Cambridge, Maryland with his amazing wife and two awesome children.

  • Guest
    Jonathon Wennstrom Sunday, 18 December 2016


    I can relate to this post. I've lost count of how many times I "should have" said yes, but got too busy. A friend of mine says that principals always need to be 72 degrees & sunny skies no matter the weather. It's easier to do when we make time to say yes! Thanks for sharing!

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