Spin…Spin…Spin…“Mr. Duckie are you in there?”
I can still hear the preschool voices followed by the knocking on my door forming a line 20 kids deep.
As I would stand up and open the door, there would be a jubilant, collective, “YEAH!”
I would ask the crowd outside my door, “Who wants to go first?”
It would be followed by, “ME…ME…ME!” Who wants to sit behind a desk all day when you can have this much fun at work?
“OK, form a line,” and like that the first child would climb into my tethered, worn, cloth-bare chair. If he couldn’t climb in, I would pick him up and place him in the chair – his feet barely hanging over the side. “ONE…TWO…THREE…FOUR…,” and I would let the chair and the child spin until they came to a stop. With a smile on his face, he would climb out of the chair and wobble out of my office and onto the playground, and the next child would take a spin. I knew it would not be long before another gathering would form, and I would hear the cry, “MORE…MORE…MORE!” Sure, why not? It was the best part of my day. It has been a privilege to sit in my chair.
From where I sit, I see a four-year-old running in a field. From where I sit, I see tricycles cruising around the track. From where I sit, I see two teachers each holding a child’s hand as she marches proudly on top of the tires. From where I sit, I see sand castles being built and destroyed. From where I sit, I see middle schoolers playing with their preschool buddies.
I love my perch here on my office chair. My window perfectly frames the day-to-day lives of our preschool students and teachers. It is a window into the future and into the past. Obviously, the playground is an important part of Preschool. TLS says it teaches courage, and all one needs to do is look out my window on any given day and see courage in action. Our students learn to play well with others and make new friends. Our students hang on for dear life as they ride the zipline. It is such an interesting view out my window. I get to see that smile widen across a child’s face as he or she does something successfully for the first time. The smile comes from accomplishment—hard fought accomplishment in some cases. I also see friendships being formed. Making a new friend can take courage. Being a friend takes courage. A friendship may just start with a “nice shot” or “will you play with me?” From my perch, I know I am present at the formation of lifelong friendships. The reason I know that is because I see middle schoolers playing with their friends on the preschool playground from time to time, and I remember when they were four and played on that same field together. It is a privilege to watch young children grow… It is a privilege to sit in my chair.
From where I sit, I have seen parents beam as they gush about their “pride and joy.” From where I sit, I have seen parents weep as they struggle with life’s most trying moments. From where I sit, I have heard an angry parent chastise the school for allowing their oldest child to be “bullied,” and I have heard that same parent years later beg for leniency and ask for understanding when their youngest mistreated a fellow student. I have been given a front row seat on life. Holding a child’s hand after she lost her father to cancer is a privilege. Being present when a child takes responsibility for a mistake and apologizes to the student he harmed is a privilege. Informing parents that their 5th grade son has won a full scholarship and watching tears of joy trickle down their cheeks is a privilege. Asking a family to consider giving a large monetary gift to a school I love and hearing their “yes” is a privilege. It is a privilege to sit in my chair.
From where I sit, I have seen a teacher change the trajectory of a child’s life forever. From where I sit, I have woefully, inadequately tried to thank a teacher for 34 years of service to The Lexington School. From where I sit, I have made someone’s lifelong dream of being a teacher a reality. Managing and motivating people is a privilege. Listening to a grateful parent say to her son’s teacher, “You are the reason my son loves coming to school every day” is a privilege. Letting a faculty member know that the life lesson she has just taught a child was exactly the right thing even if the disappointed parent doesn’t see it that way is a privilege. Watching a member of the cafeteria staff dish out a hug to a crying child just before dishing out a hot dog is a privilege. Letting someone go who is not doing her job is a privilege. Leading a faculty who understands community is a privilege. It is a privilege to sit in my chair.
November is a month to be grateful and to give thanks. I am filled with gratitude during my last year at TLS. It has been a privilege to literally and figuratively sit in my chair. Literally, because my chair is the only part of my office that was here when I started on my first day fifteen years ago. My chair has survived two decorating efforts and many more attempts to throw it away. I just could not part ways with it. I agree it is ugly and in disrepair, but something needed to stay the same. Figuratively, well that is the point of this letter. BrenéBrown says it best: “What separates privilege from entitlement is gratitude.”
With gratitude for a job I love,
Charles D. Baldecchi
Head of School