Why I Lead; or, a 37 Year Streak Ends

ImageI was absent my first day of kindergarten.

I don’t remember much about it other than it was 1975, I was four years old, and I stood out front by my mailbox for what seemed like hours waiting for a bus that never came. I’m sure the reality is I waited for maybe half an hour until my mom called the bus garage to find out that they had mistakenly told her I was in the afternoon class when I was supposed to go in the morning.

So the next morning I went to kindergarten and already felt behind. My classmates seemed like they already knew the daily routine, and David Varga had drawn just the most awesome dinosaur I had ever seen. How would I possibly catch up?

Over the next 37 years I have not missed the first day of school as a student, a teacher, a principal, or a superintendent.

My streak will end on August 22.

While 4,000 Nordonia students are beginning what will be another incredible year, I will be in Syracuse, New York, dropping my oldest son Isaac off at college.

I know I’m going to be sad leaving him. I’ve caught myself tearing up already speaking to people about him leaving. But I couldn’t be more excited for the opportunities that lay before him. His life right now is a blank canvas, and next Thursday he opens the first jar of paint. For some reason this Natasha Bedingfield song has been running through my mind a lot lately: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b7k0a5hYnSI

As a career educator, to me this is what it is all about. Those 4,000 Nordonia kids who will come through our doors next week? I want for them exactly what I want for my own son. I want them to be curious, to be risk takers, to be prepared, and to be committed to making the world a better place. I want them all to experience the first day of college or be prepared for fascinating careers in jobs that may not yet even exist. I want them to know that they can do and be anything they want. My job–no, my mission–is to ensure that we provide them with the skills and the self-confidence to follow those dreams.

I’m not going to be there for the Nordonia kids on August 22 or 23. I’m going to be there for my son.

But I can tell you my commitment as the superintendent of the Nordonia Schools is to inspire every student to value learning, community, and excellence.


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