In the Arena
Reviewing this old quote from President Theodore Roosevelt seems like a good way to wrap up the first month of 2018 and the first half of the 2017-18 school year:
“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I must admit that it sometimes feels like the critics are taking up all the oxygen, but we must listen to President Roosevelt and resist the urge to let them. I hope his words resonate with all of you because you are the doer of deeds that matter; you are the devoted; you are the valiant strivers; you are the ones who dare to do more and to do better.
While it is hard to be in the crosshairs of the critic, I remind myself and all of you that we signed up for this. When we became public employees we signed up for serious responsibilities. I’m not sure I completely understood what I was getting into when I decided that I wanted to be a teacher, but over the last 33 years, those serious responsibilities have become crystal clear, and over the last five years as your superintendent, they have become heavy. While the burdens of public employment are sometimes hard to bear, we must never forget that we signed up to be held to a higher standard than the average citizen. We signed up to do right by our community’s children.
So, as we respond to last week’s personnel issues, or to the citizens that are upset about boundary adjustments, school-based health care clinics, student discipline, athletic win-loss records, the budget, taxes, administrative salaries, the track at CMR, the GFHS design, or the plethora of other complaints that have come and will continue to come our way, we must remember that “it is not the critic who counts”. It’s the deeds we do for the right reasons that count. I was reminded this week to heed President Lincoln’s words to “put your feet in the right place and stand firm.” I am and I will, because like all of you, I signed up to be “in the arena” and to “spend myself” in this more than “worthy cause”: public education.
Take care. Be safe. Stay well.