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As Only She Can

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This is one of the reasons that I love her so much. The fact that she unabashedly shows her emotions. Stuff matters to her. There are times when this makes for bumpy rides. But I'll take highs and lows over in-betweens all day long.

I say that now that a recent low has subsided. Still, I think I really mean it.

Today my daughter was part of a team that competed in a Destination Imagination competition. For those unfamiliar with this term, it is very similar to Odyssey of the Mind. She and her team had been practicing for months. Last night she was nervous. This morning she was extremely nervous.

But when it came time to perform, she was amazing. I wouldn't have had a clue that she was nervous. She used expression, showed poise and above all else, was confident.

Yet, when the top three teams were announced, hers' was not among them. The teams were seated on the gymnasium floor, while the rest of us sat in the bleachers. And while we were quite a distance away, we could tell that she was devastated. As we walked to the car few words were spoken.

I was just glad I was able to be there with her during this difficult moment. I explained to her how I never took losing well either. I shared stories from my younger days of when I became angry after losing. I even told her how professional athletes become very upset when they lose. This didn't seem to make her feel any better.

But then I began to think about how we as a society expect people to handle their emotions. And I wonder. Have we created a society in which it's not acceptable to display them? But we crave entertainment in which heightened emotionality is the norm. Consuming it in large quantities on a daily basis. From the movies we watch to the video games children play to the news that is broadcasted into our homes each night.

We are not robots!

We have emotions!

But what about at school?

Upset children get teased. Instead of being nurtured by their classmates, they are often made to feel like outcasts. So they keep their emotions pent up. Only to have them boil over when they can contain them no longer. What if classrooms became safe places where students that felt sad were immediately comforted? Not just by the adult in the room, but by the students as well.

Can you imagine how safe a child would feel in that room? I have seen classrooms like this and they are beautiful. We need to make them more the norm than the exception. And we can. But it takes work and a whole lot of trust.

Furthermore, we need to do the same for our staff. I feel fortunate to work in a building that does just that. We laugh together. We cry together. And sometimes we laugh so hard that we laugh and cry together.

We must always remain professional. But being professional does not mean withholding our emotions.

Our students need to see us laugh when we are happy. They need to see us dance when we feel the need to do so. And when we are sad, it is okay to let them know. Albeit, in an appropriate manner. But who better to help lift us up than the people with whom we spend the majority of our waking hours?

Five minutes after we pulled away from the school, my daughter began to cheer up. Not because of something I had said and not because she had forgotten about the competition. She began to cheer up because my four-year old son was singing a goofy song, as only he can, and it was time for another emotion.


And she smiled as only she can.



Are you a princess? I said & she said I'm much more than a princess, but you don't have a name for it yet here on earth.

Brian Andreas







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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
    Abby Dalen Tuesday, 29 March 2016

    Jon, what an insightful post. Thank you for sharing! I genuinely believe that bringing authenticity into the classroom is one of the most powerful things an educator can do. When we hold back our authentic selves, we are withholding latent learning opportunities. If we are to develop trust and truly meaningful relationships with our students, I think sharing our emotions from time to time is indeed essential.


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