Note: The post below is an email I sent staff on March 20, 2017.
One of the greatest joys of being an educator is helping students discover their personal strengths, talents, and belief in themselves. This past weekend, Julie and I had a rare opportunity to spend an evening with just the two of us. With all of the potential controversy surrounding Beauty and the Beast, we decided to watch it before determining if we would allow our girls to do the same. There was a particular line in one of the songs that resonated with me more than the others. I've heard this song many times before, but this line never hit me the way it did Saturday.
Towards the end of the movie, when the Beast was discovering his gentle, caring side, there was a line in one of the songs that said There's something there that wasn't there before. The Beast had been rough around the edges and constantly had his guard up. His heart was hardened. That was, of course, until Belle inspired him to be the best he could be. It wasn't easy, and it took a great deal of patience and perseverance, but Belle helped the Beast discover the great qualities that were hidden deep inside.
As educators, that's our ultimate challenge. We don't get to choose our students. We teach the ones we have - every single one of them. Many of them carry baggage to school that causes them to harden their hearts, behave in a negative manner, or care little about school. Those students need us now more than ever. Deep within them may be hidden, untapped greatness. Our challenge is to be the "Belle" in their lives who inspires them to pursue and discover their own level of greatness.
Doug Dunn is superintendent and principal of a small K-8 school in rural, south central Missouri. He can be found on Twitter at DougDunnEdS.