On the second of our teacher work days before the start of this semester, I awoke to the sound of our home security system beeping to notify us that we had lost power. My husband and I felt our way half-blindly through our morning routine, sorted out how to raise the garage door manually, and headed off to work. A minor inconvenience caused by some downed trees. No big deal.
As I pulled into the driveway of my school, I could immediately tell that something was amiss - primarily because we don't often have a team of men in our lobby push-brooming water out the front doors. The water, by the time I arrived, had begun to freeze on the sidewalks around the main entrance, so I picked my way carefully and entered the building without breaking myself.
My principal, clad in boots, rolled up jeans, and a sheepish grin, greeted me with "So the good news is... it didn't start in your classroom. The bad news is... you don't want to see your room right now."
It - blown sprinkler system pipes and the resulting flood - started in this room across the hall from mine:
So we spent our morning rescuing textbooks, tossing anything that was clearly a lost cause, testing class materials for floatability, and finally searching for dry socks. It was such a ridiculous situation that it was nearly impossible to be genuinely upset. The whole day was feeling a bit silly and surreal.
Then we headed to the library (thankfully, a dry zone at the time) for a faculty meeting. At the meeting, our principal, still in her boots and rolled up jeans, thanked us for being such a great faculty and told us that she'd gotten a new job and would be leaving within a matter of weeks. So that was about all I could handle for one day.
This Monday was her last day, and I've had all manner of thoughts about the whole deal, from sadness (she was the only principal I've ever worked for), to anger (how do you leave your colleagues and your kids in the middle of the year?), to fear (how will things change now that she's gone?). And somewhere in there was a day or two of pondering Mr. Magorium's Wonder Emporium and the possibility that the flooding may well have been the building's reaction to our leader's departure.
The one thing that has tempered my fear is the fact that she was not the only leader in our building. We are lucky to have leaders all around that can keep us up and running and hold to the same spirit that's driven us all along.
And so, a bit of advice for any readers:
1. Develop leadership anywhere you may see potential.
2. Invest in a good pair of water wings, and stash 'em in your desk drawer.
You never know when you might need these things.