It’s the morning of June 30, 2010, the last day of my eight-year tenure as Head of Children’s Day School and the end of 36 years as school principal. As I walk through the empty halls of the school the faces and names of hundreds of children come back to me, and their parents, too. The teachers who teach in these rooms, and who used to teach in these rooms, they all crowd into my mind. On my way into the garden to say goodbye to the sheep and chickens–the only beings I haven’t said goodbye to yet–I hear the mournful mourning dove. Perfect. And as I walk back through the silent yard
and hear the mocking bird high in the giant Elm, I am hit by a small wave of grief. I am going to miss all this.
Yet, all the goodbyes and thank you’s have been entirely gratifying and I am complete. The last graduation was a kind of final exam. Each 14-year-old spoke so articulately, so succinctly, so passionately, so confidently. What more could an educator want? Another class of well-educated young people. A+
Only one small thing is missing for me and that is my graduation speech. I didn’t get to give one because the students did most of the talking. That was appropriate, of course. They were each so radiant of their own unique genius, that for an adult to say anything would have been to guild the lillies. But something is missing. I want to give a graduation speech. So, I’ll do it now, as I leave the school.
In this last month students, teachers, parents, trustees gave me the perfect goodbye presents: “What I learned from Mr. Rick.” Here is a sample list:
“Go directly to the person you have a problem with.”
“Take responsibility for your relationships (100%-0, not 50-50)”
“Treat the other person the way you would most fondly hope they would be, rather than the XXX they seem to be proving themselves to be.”
“Do the present right, and the future will take care of itself.”
“Treat other people as if they know what they are doing.”
“If it’s not fun, it’s not sustainable.”
“Treat the other person the way he or she uniquely wants to be treated. (The platinum rule)”
One teacher wrote: “What I learned from Mr. Rick? Easy: Be Kind. Always start there.”