This morning I attended the "new teacher breakfast" for Mountain Brook. Last week I attended the Learning Conference that our Foundation helps fund. Next week I will attend Institute Day--a day dedicated to the faculty, staff, and administrators in our system to get them prepared and motivated for the upcoming school year. Then, on August 13th, a new school year will begin. It's been a great summer, and as much as May felt hectic, I am ready for that new beginning. I really don't have any explanation for that other than I have the best job in the world.
I don't know how many of you have the opportunity to work in a place you call home. Perhaps a church or school where you grew up. A family business. Maybe you're simply working in your hometown. I also don't know how many of you have the privilege of working in a place that produces excellence in everything it does. Somehow, I lucked into the combination of both of these things.
Today I stood at a podium to address the newest crop of teachers in the Mountain Brook School System. As I looked out into the crowd I saw not just new faces, but old ones. My high school principal who is now our superintendent. My high school volleyball coach. And even the Trig teacher who is solely responsible for me passing high school math after spending his daily free time helping me understand concepts that felt foreign to me. Eleven years after I graduated high school these people are all still there. Still impacting lives. Other faces have changed. There are new teachers much younger than I am, nervous and excited for their first jobs. There are veteran teachers who have come to Mountain Brook from other districts for the opportunity to work with (as one said today) "the best of the best."
As I stood at that podium I felt ownership. A sense of home. A sense of pride. Not just because this is an excellent place, but because it is MY excellent place. This is a place and a school system that reared me. A place that taught me what it was to learn. To strive to be my best. It challenged me. Or, I should say, the people in it did all of those things. It is not a perfect place. Now, like when I was a student, it has its struggles, as all places do. But it is a place where excellence is the standard while at the same time individuals are cared for and nurtured right where they are. It's not a private school. But it doesn't really feel like a public school either. It's hard to explain to someone who has never been a part of it. But today I heard it described as family, and I can identify with that.
Somehow, after nine years away, I was able to come home and work with my family. For that, I am extremely thankful.