Early one morning, a mother went in to wake up her son. “Wake up, it’s time to go to school!” “But why, Mom? I don’t want to go.” “Give me two reasons why you don’t want to go.” “Well, the kids hate me for one, and the teachers hate me, too!” “Oh, that’s no reason not to go to school. Come on now and get ready.” The son says “Give me two reasons why I should go to school.” The mother replies “Well, for one, you’re 52 years old. And for another, you’re the Principal!”
With school upon us and our sons and daughters (or grandkids) either beginning or starting back to school, I thought it would be good to eavesdrop on one father’s letter to his son’s teacher.
“My son starts school today. It is all going to be strange and new to him for a while and I wish you would treat him gently. So dear Teacher, will you please take him by his hand and teach him things he will have to know, teaching him – but gently, if you can.
Teach him that for every enemy, there is a friend. He will have to know that all men are not just, that all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero; that for every crooked politician, there is a dedicated leader.
Teach him if you can that 10 cents earned is of far more value than a dollar found. In school, teacher, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat. Teach him to learn how to gracefully lose, and enjoy winning when he does win.
Teach him to be gentle with people, tough with tough people. Steer him away from envy if you can and teach him the secret of quiet laughter. Teach him if you can – how to laugh when he is sad, teach him there is no shame in tears. Teach him there can be glory in failure and despair in success. Teach him to scoff at cynics.
Teach him if you can the wonders of books, but also give time to ponder the extreme mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun and flowers on a green hill. Teach him to have faith in his own ideas, even if everyone tells him they are wrong.
Try to give my son the strength not to follow the crowd when everyone else is doing it. Teach him to listen to every one, but teach him also to filter all that he hears on a screen of truth and take only the good that comes through.
Teach him to sell his talents and brains to the highest bidder but never to put a price tag on his heart and soul. Let him have the courage to be impatient, let him have the patience to be brave. Teach him to have sublime faith in himself, because then he will always have sublime faith in mankind, in God.
This is the order, teacher but see what best you can do. He is such a nice little boy and he is my son.
Who is this thoughtful father?…… None other than Abraham Lincoln our 16th President.
Another school year is a great reminder that Education and Economic Development are so intertwined; the success of one depends on the success of the other. Until we increase the education level of all Tama County residents, the better-paying jobs will continue to go elsewhere. Without those good jobs, the best and brightest leave the region, creating a brain drain we cannot afford.