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Opinion: Thank you, principals
West Hall_Ley Hathcock
West Hall High principal Ley Hathcock chats with sophomore students, from the right, Kenneth Soto, Rodrigo Lopez, Luis Oligon and Melanie Arroyo Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018, in the school's media center. - Times file photo

I have been thinking about many of my principal friends and hoping they know how valued they are right now — in the midst of uncertainty.  

The COVID-19 pandemic created a whole new unknown realm of leadership. No textbook or leadership course prepared them for this. Principaling is hard work and our principals have been working tirelessly through this pandemic. Take a minute to thank them. 

This morning at a local Chick-fil-A drive-thru, I had a former student recognize me as her middle school principal, and behind her mask, she smiled (I just sensed it) as she said, “Mr. Shane?” I said, “That’s me.” She proceeded to say, “You were my principal.”  

It was a simple quick exchange, and to this former principal, it felt so good inside. She handed me my order and said, “Have a great day.”  That straightforward expression of “I know you!” still resonates. 

The mentioned moment was the catalyst for me writing this pronouncement and plea to thank those who are leading schools. Won’t you join me by reaching out to a principal and saying, “I see you, I know you and I thank you.” And moreover, let us not forget those leaders who came before the current league of leaders, whose shoulders administrators stand upon.  

For me, my very own high school principal, Dr. David Hill, is one of those legacies. During my tenure as an administrator, I drew upon my experiences as his student. He was important to me as a student then and later as an administrator and remains so today as my friend. Thank you, Dr. Hill for being a lighthouse. 

Metaphors can help us understand the complex. Muse for a moment about metaphors for leaders. There are many, but the one that seems appropriate in the current schooling climate is of “leaders as lighthouses.”   

Let me expound: A lighthouse leader leads with unshakeable authenticity, visible vulnerability and pure integrity; a lighthouse leader is a beacon of hope, resilience and empowerment; a lighthouse leader creates a solid foundation that breaks the waves and withstands storms of adversity; and perhaps most importantly, a lighthouse leader lights the way for other people to become leaders, too. 

Today, I urge all of us to thank a principal, a former or current administrator, as our children return to schools and we entrust our precious ones to them.  

Thank you, principals everywhere. Thank you for being a lighthouse during this critical time of educating the future. 

Shane Rayburn 

Gainesville 

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