This Tuesday marked the first day of fall. Fall is one of my favorite times of year. Cool weather, sitting by the fire pit, comfy sweatshirts, football games, and apple picking are all things that I look forward to over the next several months. I have also noticed recently that the leaves are starting to change color and some have even begun to fall. Poet Thich Nhat Hanh once wrote:
"I asked the leaf whether it was scared because it was autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me, “During the whole spring and summer I was very alive. I worked hard and helped nourish the tree, and much of me is in the tree."
Seeing the leaves change color is beautiful. You see the uniqueness of each tree, of each leaf. You see into the heart of each tree as they paint nature's landscape. You just have to take the time to look.
Our teachers and students are working hard. I see your heart as you paint a landscape of learning for our students. I see how hard you are working. I see your heart in the concern you have for your students' success while balancing your own personal lives during this time as well. I see the uniqueness you try to put into every lesson, every activity. I see how much you are giving during the week and how by Friday, our students are leaving nourished by getting to be in classes with our teachers. Your hearts are in all the right places.
In the midst of all we are experiencing, it is important to pause and reflect. At the heart of our success is empathy. Everyone is going through something professionally and personally. This is really hard. Acknowledging the efforts of our colleagues and our students is critical. People are giving what they can to the point of exhaustion, physically and mentally. Like leaves protecting the tree, we must continue to look out for each other, protect each other and not be afraid to know that you are doing the best that you can. Your heart is with all those you love, serve and work with every day. I see your heart and I greatly appreciate it.
I was in my first year of teaching at Pequannock Township High School in 2001 when I was walking down the hallway to my next class and I happened to look into the media center and saw the television on as it was broadcasting that a plane had hit the World Trade Center. I will never forget.....
After a quick glance I got to my classroom and began teaching my Business Law class. Cell phones were not a real big thing yet and we did not have 1:1 Chromebooks so my students and I had a brief conversation about what some of us had just seen but then continued with learning. That was my last class of the day. I will never forget.....
As word began to travel about what was happening, our Principal got on the loud speaker and said that school would be closing early and that everyone would be getting picked up for dismissal. People started gathering around any TV they could in the high school to figure out what was going on. I will never forget.....
I lived in Sussex County and I drove as safely and as quickly as I could and when I got home watched in disbelief at what was happening at what became ground zero. There were definitely tears in my eyes. Such great loss. Such tremendous heroism. I will never forget.....
Driving to work over the next several days, weeks and months there were so many American Flags. They were on cars, displayed on front laws, in store windows. The feelings of Patriotism could be seen everywhere you looked. People rallied around each other, supported each other and lifted each other up as a nation regrouped. I will never forget.....
We will never forget 9/11/2001. The unbelievable tragedy that will forever leave a mark on our hearts. But let us also never forget 9/11/2001 because of the sense of humanity and patriotism that brought our nation together. As we recovered as a country, everyone worked together, listened to one another, fought for one another, supported one another...cared about one another. We need that same humanity and patriotism today as we navigate our current reality. I see it in the way our community rallies around each other. I see it in the way our teachers are giving every ounce of energy they have for their students. I see it in our coaches and advisers in how they want to provide as many experiences as possible. I see it in our students....In their desire to bleed blue and gold. While our students were not born yet in 2001, they will help me never forget that day......They are our future. Let it be a future filled with promise that we will never forget. #pantherstrong
Richard M. Hayzler
A life long educator and current Principal of Pequannock Township High School in NJ, Rich is excited to share his ideas and thoughts about education and how we can change the world for our students and our staff.