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The Stories Worth Telling

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You probably would not expect it.

But then again, why wouldn’t you?

The story I am about to tell you is about two brothers. One big and one small.

It all began one morning before school. Two brothers rode their bikes to school. I may be wrong, but I couldn’t recall them ever riding their bikes to school before. Neither wore a helmet and neither one seemed as if they realized that they were riding in the bus zone. I was just arriving to school and I paid them a good morning and made sure to remind them that the buses would be pulling up soon.

They heeded my warning and parked their bikes where they belonged. The school day went on as normal and the fact that the two brothers rode their bikes to school didn’t cross my mind again until just as school was about to let out. See, the youngest brother is one who often has difficulties successfully navigating through an entire school day. So sometimes, about fifteen minutes before school is dismissed, he and I head to the gym and play basketball.

On this particular day, the older brother, who also has his own difficulties making it through the day, saw us in the gym and asked if he and his brother could start biking home. Before the buses. I thought to myself, Absolutely not! We dismiss bike riders last for a reason. Dismissing them any earlier just wouldn’t be safe.

But then he explained why he wanted to leave early. You see, he was staying after school for the Young Gentleman’s Club, and his younger brother was not. His plan was to escort his brother home and then rush back in time to make the meeting. His brother never likes to ride the bus without him and there have in fact been times when other kids have picked on them at the bus stop. He didn't want anything to happen to his little brother.

Now I get it. I checked with my principal, just to be sure and she was all for it. Once I gave the boys the go-ahead they took off. The older brother made it back in time for the meeting and his younger brother made it home safely. It was one of the sweetest gestures of brotherly love I had ever witnessed.

And to think, I would have never expected it. Shame on me! Just because most of the stories told about these two brothers are ones of misbehavior and defiance? That does not mean that those are the only stories that could be told of them.

Storytelling is a fine art. Yet it can be very convenient to tell the easy ones. The ones that we all know. The ones with the predictable endings. The ones that don’t require us to even scratch the surface.

But who wants to read them? Maybe they’re fun to watch and read when we simply want some mindless brain candy. I, on the other hand, prefer to be challenged. To be surprised. Don’t tell me the ending. Don’t even give me a hint. I want to know that the storyteller has dug deep and found something that I had not expected. A twist that forces me to reread or do a double take.

Is that too much to ask?

So how did a story about two boys and their bikes end up here? Because I think too often with the children we serve, it is easy to tell the stories that we know. That we see. And think they are the only stories. When instead we should be looking and hoping for the stories that we don't know. The ones that will amaze us. The ones that will help us to see our students with new eyes.

I know what what I witnessed that day certainly changed the way I see things. I must start trying to look for the hidden stories. The ones that aren’t so obvious. The ones that require some uncovering. That is where the beauty lies. Those are the stories worth telling.

By the way, both boys did a horrible job on the bus today. That’s okay though, because I will never forget the day they rode their bikes to school. That is the story I will remember. So that is the story I will tell of them.

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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.

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Guest Saturday, 23 February 2019