Friday, January 27, 2012

A Man I Loved and a Fish Song

     I saw the obituary in the newspaper last week and instantly recognized the man, even though I hadn't seen him in 38 years.  He wouldn't remember me, but he changed my life.
     My Kindergarten teacher taught us "The Fish Song."  Then she told us we were going to sing it for the principal.  I was terrified.  I spent the line-up-and-walk-down-the-hall-time nervously going over the words in my head so I wouldn't mess up.
     When we got there and crowded into his office, his smile lit every corner of the room and his hello snuggled me in warmth.  Suddenly I wasn't scared anymore.  He was totally present, looking at each one of us, and smiling.  When we were done, he said, "What a wonderful surprise!  How did you know that was my favorite song?"  I thought it was strange that an adult's favorite song was "The Fish Song," but I was thrilled we happened to pick his favorite song.
     I was extremely shy and literally never said a word to anyone.  My teacher thought I had a learning disability and sent me to special ed.  When the ladies there realized I understood what they were trying to teach me, they focused on ways to help me with my fears.  The wonderful man in the office was a huge part of that.  He loved to tease me and try to get me to smile or laugh.  We worked up to saying hi in the halls.  With his love, I slowly began to talk.  Time passed and I moved away, but I never forgot him.  I knew I wanted to grow up and make other kids feel like he made me feel.
     I am in the middle of becoming a school administrator now, and I talk to lots of people.  Many of them tell me I should stay a teacher because you can make such a difference as a teacher.  When I asked a principal about it, the response was, "Being a principal is different.  You don't make a direct difference, but you do make an indirect difference by making the school a great school."   I have loved every second of being an intern, but I'd started doubting my choice, wondering if this was going to be enough for me.
     A few days later I saw his smile and suddenly realized it could be so much more, if I chose it to be.  I cut out the obituary and put it on my vision board.  His smile shines among the other pictures and sayings and thoughts, reminding me that it's me who makes the difference, not the job.      


  1. Absolutely perfect, Tiffany. We get what we need, when we need it, when we are open to receiving it in whatever form it comes. Wonderful (and thanks for sharing.)
    PS: You'll shine just as brightly and light up any school so lucky to get you as their principal.

  2. What a wonderful legacy he left. I am sure he touched many, many lives. It is truly amazing that he had an influence in your life twice. How different your life may have been and how different your life will be now because of him.

  3. Great post! thank you so much for writing that. I know you will be great at whatever you do because you have the right mindset.