This thing stung me or bit me or something, because it left a red, swollen, itchy mark on my arm for several days. I have a confession. I killed it. I swatted at it until it fell to the ground and then I stepped on it to assure its demise. I'm a little embarrassed. To add to that embarrassment, I killed it on the CHCS campus, a place where living things should feel safe! It happened at the last PTO meeting of the year where the principal candidates each had 2 minutes to introduce themselves to the parents. After I killed it, I realized what I had done and where I was and I looked around to make sure nobody was watching. I was embarrassed.
Look, I have been unkind to my share of creatures. When we were kids we used to catch fireflies and smoosh their tails, fascinated by the lucibufagen chemical that produced their bioluminescence. (Pretty good, huh?) I'm not sure I've ever met a fly or dive-bombing wasp that I liked. And ants just don't belong in the house.
So, what's changed? What's different? Why was I embarrassed that I killed that insect when it didn't use to bother me? CHCS has changed me. Even before I became Principal, CHCS changed the way I look at the natural world and all of its wonders. I appreciate it now more than ever. I get it.
Do you know what I think may be worse than being unkind to creatures and nature? Being indifferent and going through life, day after day, and not taking time to notice and wonder and be amazed. Do you know what I think may be even worse? Teaching our children, our students, to be indifferent by our indifference. That would be a shame.
But that's not you. You're a staff member at CHCS because you are different, not indifferent. You like that CHCS is different and you want to make a difference. One of the ways you will make a difference is by not smooshing things dead. Seriously, though, you will make a difference by not being indifferent. Your students need passions. You will make a difference by being passionate about the natural world. Your students are watching. You will make a difference by being outdoors often. Your students are waiting. You will make a difference by not giving up even when you can't wrap your mind around what the environment as an integrating context means and looks like day in and day out. Your students need you to persevere.
How do you develop a passion for the natural world? Richard Louv wrote, "Passion is lifted from the earth itself by the muddy hands of the young; it travels along grass-stained sleeves to the heart. If we are going to save environmentalism and the environment, we must also save an endangered indicator species: the child in nature." (Last Child In the Woods) How might that apply to us as adults? Think on that some and we'll address this question another day.
You can and I know you will. You're not at CHCS by mistake. You're DIFFERENT IN a great way!