It Takes a Village

I had a teacher in high school named Tim Greenwell. He was an jack-of-all-trades. History teacher; Assistant Band Director; Student Government Association - the man seemed to do everything and be everywhere. Among the uncountable lessons I learned from Tim was the importance of saying 'Thank You'. As we approach Thanksgiving, I've been thinking about Tim.

I remember that Tim would say thank-you in what seemed at the time like ridiculous situations. I would return a borrowed pen - thank you! A student would throw their trash away walking out of class - thank you! A parent would bring a drink to their own kid after a marching band performance - thank you! It was relentless! And he seemed to say it in situations that weren't his doing. Like the parent bringing a drink - it wasn't for him, but he still thanked the parent anyways.

Several times since becoming a teacher myself I've had a moment of realization that I now say thank-you to others in a lot of similar situations. Tim's thank-you habit certainly rubbed off on me and, well, I'm very thankful for that.


As we approach Thanksgiving Break, I'm thankful for... wife, Angela (@autismteacher13) who is about the most incredible person I know and my best friend. I'm thankful that we found each other in a sea of billions of people. future child, due in May. And for the nights of uninterrupted sleep I'm currently getting. parents, Rick and Denise, who are so incredible supporting of my teaching and who have set such a great example for me over the years. I hear so many stories of people frustrated by their parents - I'm thankful that you have both worked so hard to create and foster opportunities for me to be my best self. 

...Saturday morning runs to Panera (Bread Co. for you St. Louis folks) . Angela and I have spent countless hours there filled with good coffee, good conversation, good books, awesome bagels and more grading than I'd like to admit!

...TSA, who help keep travelers like my brother safe as he flies his way around the country and the world. From Sporting KC to the Center Boys and Girls Soccer Teams to the US National Team this summer at the World Cup to my Monday night men's league, I'm thankful for the joy soccer brings. And I'm thankful I haven't hurt myself in a while. Knock on wood. pot of coffee in my classroom which brings me warm, caffeinated happiness every morning. students, who come from so many diverse places in life and so many different backgrounds. You all prove to me every day that our world is actually in good hands. We have a lot of fun together and I think we all learn quite a bit. That's really what it's all about at the end of the day. 

...Beth Heide and Dave Leone, who gave me a chance to be a teacher five years ago when they probably shouldn't have based on my experience. I try every day to repay your faith in me by changing the life of a student in someway. 


...DVR recording shows like The Blacklist and Madame Secretary.

...books, particularly Teach Like a Pirate, which is changing the way I look at engaging students.

...a particular student in my advisory class who I won't name. If you ever read this, you'll know who you are. This kid is going to do something great with his life. He's going to make a fantastic husband and dad to a lucky future wife and child. From the things you've done as a student in my class to our hours of talking during advisory class and in the hallway, you've taught me countless lessons about hard work and perseverance. I probably would have quit school 3 or 4 times by now after what you've gone through, but here you are a few months away from graduation. It's been amazing to watch you grow up.

...Yaya. Look it up. It's Greek.

I could go on for a while. One of these days I'm going to take my Yaya's words of encouragement and write a book. I'm trying to convince my dad to do this in his ever-shrinking free time. Whenever I do, I might go with an acknowledgement chapter rather than an acknowledgement page. I have never believed in the "it takes a village" mantra more than I do right now. I have certainly been lucky in my life to have a great village around me. I'm very thankful for that village.