Ok, maybe not. I am Dennis Griffin Jr., an elementary school principal. To be honest, I would prefer to be the Incredible Hulk, but we can save that for another time. Do you know the real reason why people are enamored with superheroes? Everyone always thinks it has something to do with their powers. Their individual powers are cool, but they have a power that is often overlooked. The most tremendous powers that superheroes possess are the symbolic representations of hope and belief that they will overcome any obstacle and save the day no matter what the cost (notice I did not say “can”, I said “will”). Conflict is inevitable and superheroes take it upon themselves to protect and serve those that cannot do for themselves. The legendary superheroes inspire others to become the next generation of heroes. The city could be your school or classroom. The conflict could be fear of relationships or finding the slope of a line. As #EduGladiators, we are telling the world that we have taken the charge of ensuring that every kid will be prepared to overcome obstacles to obtain their goals and dreams on this journey called life. This cannot happen without a strong relationship, which Rita Pearson can tell you all about.
Understand that our parents give us their most prized possessions. How would you want someone to treat your most prized possession? Would you want it nurtured? Protected? Valued? Prized possessions indicate the immeasurable value that each and every kid in our schools possess. I make it a point to eliminate human nature to judge and I refuse to let any kid feel they get “on my nerves”. They can't, because of how I value them. They did not create their circumstances. I am here to serve them and meet their needs. How can a kid with unlimited potential and value get on your proverbial nerve or feel unwanted? How can they not experience success and growth? This is impossible to me because as superheroes we defy the odds. Our belief in them gives them the courage to cross the bridge of hope to their future. This is our superpower. I also remember that I was a kid once and I made numerous mistakes. What about you?
At the end of your senior year, you have a moment of reflection (at least I did) and you think about all of the educators that prepared you for this challenging world. There were certain educators that stood out more than others for various reasons. I vowed (and I told this to my students) that when it is all said and done, they would consider me to be one of their top three educators of all time. I say top three because honestly, it is hard for me to compete with any kindergarten educators. I made it a point to give each and every student that crossed my path a reason to go home and talk about school on their own accord (you would be surprised how many kids go home and do not talk about school after 8 hours of school). After 10 years in education the age of my students is quite diverse; however, when I run into my students, there is one consistent theme that is shared, “Thank you Mr. Griffin! You were one of the few teachers that really made an impact on my life!" Notice they did not just say EDUCATION, they said LIFE!!! They talk to me about the obstacles they were faced with and how they overcame them.
I always asked myself, “what if our kids truly saw what I saw deep within them and the unlimited potential of their future to change the world?” More importantly, what if they saw it within themselves and believed it? I believe in them. We have prepared for the conflict that undoubtedly will present itself and they have the courage to persevere. I know my impact exceeds the one to two years that I have the honor of educating them in my classroom/school. I have the superpower to impact the rest of their lives. Insert Uncle Ben telling Peter Parker, "With great power comes great responsibility!" When my kids leave me I willingly give them a piece of me to let them know they will never be alone because I am with them. I decided to make this my gift to ALL students. Together we WILL accomplish our goals. We WILL change the world. Upon deeper reflection, my students give me a piece of them that allows me to persevere and make sure that we are successful, because I know what their futures may hold if I fail; therefore, failure is not an option for any student. My success is predicated on their success now and in the future. We will be forever linked with a common bond; change. They are on a mission to pay it forward as they mature and take the mantel to become the next generation of superheroes. As #EduGladiators and #EduHeroes you become part of something greater than yourself.
Do you care to join us on our mission to save the world against insurmountable odds?