Sunday, April 6, 2014

Celebrating the Quiet Mentors: John

On Friday, I read Meeno Rami's book Thrive: 5 Ways to (Re)Invigorate Your Teaching and connected with her chapter on mentors. Rami uses the term quiet mentors and reminds us that mentors are all over. They are in many different parts of our lives--and we can have more than one. 

We can make that choice to surround ourselves with people who are good for us.

In the text, Rami suggests looking for those who are passionate about their work, enjoy their job, whose students trust them, whose students are engaged, who is most willing to share, who is doing something which interests you but you know nothing about, who has a quality you would like to develop in yourself...and so on.

And I thought, my gosh, I know those people. To honor them, I am going to blog for a week about all of the quiet mentors in my life.

Quiet Mentor #2: John

There must be a dozen Johns in our building because I always see him. He is everywhere. Before school, during school, after school, on the weekends. He says yes. Or, I can help you. Or I will do that.

What I love is that John has exceeded his assignment in our building.

He isn't a teacher, or an IT professional, or a coach, or a committee member (several times over), or a volunteer, or a liason. He is all of those things yet none of those things define him best. I mean, there are a lot of teachers, IT professionals, coaches, committee members, volunteers, and liasons in education.

What I recognize in John, and try like hell to infuse into my bloodstream, is benevolence and dedication.

In a position where everyone needs help (technology), Josh is patient. He is so patient with all of us. We all see him in someone else's room, troubleshooting or teaching. He is a walking, breathing example of professional development. Every time we need him for something we learn something.

And it is John's way that erases the label or teacher, or IT support, or coach...

It is John's way to show up. He attends so much. I live about 15 minutes from school and do not attend 1/4 of the events that John attends. And he lives upwards of 1 hour and 30 minutes away.

It is also John's way to neither make excuses why he can't do something nor look for compensation before agreeing to do something. He is the antithesis of a "paycheck coach" or a "paycheck teacher."

He never clocks in and never clocks out. There is no clock in John's world. In his mind, there is only our personal responsibility to be the best educators we can be. And if that is true, then there can be no time clock placed on being an educator. You can't write a check large enough to place a value on that attitude or that practice. John reminds me that this is not a profession, but a vocation.

John will never pout about salary or fold his arms coldly across his chest, refusing to do something. He will never tell someone they are not doing enough--kid or adult. He just quietly leads by example. And does, and does, and does. And always says yes.

Benevolence and dedication: what John values is bigger than a check.

So often, he is sharing his experiences from conferences, workshops, and EdCamps. John goes to things. And he has three kids and a wife and volunteers at summer camp and helps at anything his own kids are involved in.

He never complains about not having enough hours. John has the same amount of hours as the rest of us, yet...

Benevolence and dedication.

As a matter of fact, when John started our school's television station he did it alone. I remember when he had the idea almost twenty years ago. He was so excited and told everyone about the idea and solicited feedback--did we think it could work? Not only does HawkTV work, but he trains the kids so well that they run it without him. When John is gone for the day, the kids run the station.

I remember John just showing up early on Saturday mornings to help me build sets for the school play. He had two of his children with him (Ryan and Elizabeth) and he would do whatever needed getting done: painting, lighting, sound...whatever. He was there to help.

He still is.

Yesterday he drove an hour and a half on a Saturday morning to DJ at our school's fundraiser, the 5K I wrote about yesterday.

No one is writing John a check for these things, and he would balk at the suggestion.

I do indeed see more in John than teacher, IT support, coach, committee member...

I see educator.

I see mentor.

John, thank you for an example that reminds me and inspires me that we all have to keep working at it, often on our own dime and often on our own time.

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