Road Scholars

(Greg) It is 7:05 PM. A
worse-than-Muzak Greek version of “For Your Eyes Only” is crackling over a single stereo speaker behind the bar and I am looking out at 4 students huddled around their teacher/mother in the hotel lobby teaching intransitive verbs and predicate nouns. I know those specifics only because I just asked. I have convinced myself that, as Headmaster, my responsibility is to create the right environment for learning. I am merely following in the footsteps of Governor Arnold in The Simpsons Movie who so accurately expressed our shared credo: “I was elected to lead, not to read.”

So, yes, I am the Headmaster. This means I have little actual teaching responsibility except – as board members often do – to swoop in, drop an unexpected bomb and fly away to watch real management clean up the mess. This I did yesterday in Delfi. The plan was to do some grammar, some vocabulary and try our first writing prompt. I informed the teacher that the Headmaster would like to pose the writing challenge. Actually I should not mislead on the chronology. I informed the teacher after I posed the writing assignment since I have heard it is better to ask forgiveness than permission. Continuing my strategy of unannounced shock and awe, I tendered their first writing assignment in simple form, “Ancient Mythology and Modern Religion…Discuss.”

Our young Road Scholars were both shocked and awed.

Emma was seated directly across from me so I saw her slowly melt into tears first. The boys showed an initial air of buoyant poise, then saw Emma’s tears and Dana’s seething anger and, in unison, stomped out of the hotel lobby in angry hysteria. Alexandra recognized this as an opportunity to show off her 8th grade expository writing skills (and her obvious sibling supremacy), so sat looking at me with a bring-it-on grin.

Quickly concluding that I was losing ground fast, I could only retreat into my familiar executive overhead persona and proceeded to launch into a “big picture” diatribe about our 12 Guiding Principles and how Courage and Perseverance were paramount and how their reaction to this mountain embodied their true character, et cetera, et cetera. “Kids,” I said in a most supercilious tone, “I believe that your teachers have coddled you and its time for a challenge. I do not expect Nobel prize-winning submissions, I only expect you to think and try. It is from facing trials like this that true greatness emerges. This is what this whole year is all about.”

At this, I dragged a teed off Dana out of the room to console and capitulate while the kids re-grouped. Dana was not peeved about the challenge, just the typically shotgun-no-prep-or-process manner in which it was offered. I allowed that it was a bit off the cuff and also agreed that perhaps we could add process to this writing prompt over the next few days. We were a smiling team again.

We went back to the lobby to see the most heartwarming sight imaginable: all 4 kids had written at least a page and a half, but best of all, were working together to understand the problem then compose independent essays. Dana smiled, the headmaster was redeemed and the kids beamed in legitimate satisfaction.

Road Scholars indeed.

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5 Responses to “Road Scholars”

  1. White Family!

    love reading the posts, and traveling with you on your adventure. We look forward to them, and taylor and will are loving all they are learning from you. Have fun, and keep the updates coming! best to you

  2. Jane Chaponis 21. Jul, 2010 at 7:28 am

    I was telling Katrina about your trip yesterday at the office. Great Post today! The Chaponis Girls love traveling with you. You are in our prays for a continued safe journey!

  3. Hey Greg, Dana & kids:
    It sounds like the trip is off to a great start. Loved seeing your posts… you may be the headmaster, but don’t forget who the real boss is! Looking forward to reading about the next adventure.
    Take care, Matt
    Matt

  4. As always, impressed!
    Mostly that dana puts up with you, but occasionally by your inspiring leadership.
    Knowing this will be an overwhelming success of a year for the kids, I wonder how we can develop it into a Charter School – “Year Around the World” – PERFECT OPPORTUNITY! What’s not to like for developing todays youth?? (except the NASA like budget perhaps…)
    I hope you will consider me for the role of Willie the Scottish Gardener.

  5. I saw the picture of the two of you smiling after realizing that you are on the same page and more importantly felt the warmth you felt in your own hearts as your children grew, right in front of your eyes,together. When the spirit,heart and mind come together and you realize your vision is a reality…I simply ask,what could possibly be better? You continue to amaze me brother Greg. Give the teacher a big hug and a well deserved “you rock” from the home of one who is still raising four and searching each day for the magic! Love and peace