Friday, June 14, 2013

The Invisible Kids

This is my 37th year in education, my 14th year or so as a principal.  And tomorrow, on Saturday, 439 students will take part in commencement.

I know several principals . . . and teachers . . . who have been at this longer than I have. 

God Bless ‘Em!

Tomorrow, the kids will dress in their blue gowns, their blue “hats”.  Some will wear gold stoles with gold tassels, signifying they graduated with honors.  Some will wear medallions because they graduated with even higher honors.

Parents, Grandparents, Family Members, and Loved Ones will be in the stands cheering for them.  Lots of smiles.  Some tears. 

Some relief.

There will be some whose hand I will shake and wonder, “Really?” as I think about their missteps and mistakes that, well, we’ve all made.

You see, it seems I know both ends.  Those at the top with the best grade point averages . . . and those who struggled, because it didn’t come very easily for them.  But they made it just the same, and like the kids with the gold stoles and gold tassels, they’ll walk up the ramp, onto the stage, receive their diploma, and I’ll shake their hand.  They deserve it too.

I have a teacher, Kathy, who is retiring this year.  She’s been at it a long time.  She adopted a classroom of special needs kids and refers to them as “The Best Class”.  One of them, Trey, is graduating.  I wrote about him earlier this week and I’ve got to tell you, I’ll miss him.

But Kathy was also clued into the kids whom she called, The Invisible Kids.

The Invisible Kids probably won’t be dressed in a gold stole or have a gold tassel.  They might not have the greatest grade point average.  They got it done in the classroom, perhaps not as well as the kids at the top, certainly better than the kids at the bottom, but they got it done.  They didn’t get into trouble.  They didn’t have many missteps.  They walked the narrow silently, quietly, with little, if any, fanfare.

The Invisible Kids.

Kids content to stay out of the spotlight.  Kids who answered the right questions in class.  Kids who may or may not have volunteered for this or that answer, but perhaps were called upon instead.  Mostly got it right.  Mostly.

A mom came into my office a week ago and thanked me for the awards ceremony we had.  She explained, quite proudly . . . modestly, that her son wasn’t the best student.  He didn’t play on a team.  He wasn’t in a club.  He didn’t take part in an activity.  Yet, at this awards ceremony, her son was recognized by a teacher because he gave effort.  He tried and didn’t give up.  He was a good kid.  He didn’t make waves.

An Invisible Kid.

But not Invisible to the teacher who recognized him for an award.  Saw him as deserving.

It made that kid’s year.  It made that mom proud.  Thankful, because a teacher made sure he wasn’t Invisible.

So . . .

Tomorrow 439 kids will graduate and take part in commencement.  Some of them who are golden like their stoles and their tassels.  Some of them who struggled, but made it, and who will someday be golden in their own way too.  Someday.

And some who, whether they like it or not, will walk up on the stage and for a brief moment, have their name called, and approximately 5,000 people will cheer for them. 

They will receive recognition.  Be in the spotlight whether they want to be or not.

And, as it should be, they won’t be Invisible any longer.  At least for a brief moment on a Saturday morning in June.  Something to think about . . .

Oh, and I almost forgot . . .

I wrote in an earlier post that instead of giving a speech at commencement, I sing to my kids.  I pick a song that fits them, captures their personality.  This class liked to rush to the future.  Want to get into ‘life’ in a hurry. 

So, for those of you who wondered what song I’m singing tomorrow, I chose “Don’t Blink”.  I’m being accompanied by one of my seniors on an acoustic guitar.  I only hope I do justice to Kenny Chesney’s song.



  1. Joe, I really enjoyed this post. The kids in your school are fortunate to have such a caring educator. Yes, you do make a difference.

  2. Thank you very much, Joan. I really appreciate your comment. Joe


Thank you for your comment. I welcome your thought. Joe