Among the many advantages of working at a school as a teacher or administrator is that one finds oneself being inspired by others on a regular basis. This week alone, I have been inspired numerous times.
Just yesterday, I witnessed the incredible strength of a tight-knit family as they dealt with the loss of a loved one. They demonstrated a commitment to one another – love, courage and strength, despite their deep sadness. Despite my own sadness, I felt buoyed by who they are, how they are there for one another and for others. I felt inspired by their example.
Earlier this week, North Shore learned of the death of one of our oldest alums. Fisher Howe ’31 died just days shy of his 101st birthday. I knew Fisher, admired him and over the years have been inspired by his energy, spirit and example. As an expert in the field of not-for-profit governance and a true believer in the power of young people, Fisher clearly lived a life that exemplified the North Shore motto “Live and Serve.”
Very early on Monday morning, I had a conversation with one of our coaches to catch up on his team’s performance over the weekend. As he described the performance of one of his student athletes at a recent competition, I was struck by how invested the coach was in his team and each of the team members. He didn’t talk of his athletes in the context of winning and losing, instead it was about their growth, the habits they were developing and the lessons they were learning. I left the conversation energized and, yes, a bit inspired my colleague’s commitment, his knowledge of his sport and his knowledge of his athletes. I found myself inspired.
Every day in school “inspiration walks the halls,” whether it’s four- or five-year-olds or 16- or 17-year-olds. I find students who are “doing school,” inspiring — each positioned to grow, each collaborating with peers and teachers, each investing themselves in their education.
Finally, I have been inspired by our trustees who have stepped up whenever they have been needed the most. In recent weeks, three key Board leaders went above and beyond to provide guidance and perspective as I was preparing to announce my retirement. Their commitment to North Shore — to our students, faculty and staff, parents and families — is inspiring.
I realize that 14 months from now, I will leave a routine that has meant so much to me and through which I have found inspiration. Am I worried about what comes next? Not really. I will have 40 years of inspiring memories to look back on.
North Shore Country Day School is a private, college-prep school for high school, middle school and elementary school students in Winnetka, IL, a suburb of Chicago.