The Principal's Principles

A Middle School Principal, striving to make the world a better place, one day at a time.

Don’t be Superficial

A few years ago, my grandfather shared with his children (my parents), who then in turn shared with their children that he had made a major decision. After months of conversation, he was going to move into an Assisted Living facility where he, at age 87, would have better access to his doctor’s and live closer to most of his kids. His decision was made, however, he intended to stay in his house for one last summer. You see, summer was a special time at my grandparent’s house. They lived near Lake Huron, and many of my best childhood memories are at their house with my cousins, playing at the beach or sitting on the deck with my Grandpa.

A few days later, one of my uncles organized a trip to his house to beautify his landscaping for his last summer before moving. Upon arriving on that Saturday, one of my cousins and I were assigned a flower bed to work on. When we arrived, we found some old mulch, some weeds, and some discolored landscaping rocks, all which were showing their age.

The easy thing to do would have been to quickly throw some new mulch down over the old, to put a couple of flowers in, and to walk away. Anyone who knows gardening knows that this would not have lasted, the weeds would have returned quickly, and the flowers would have died. Instead, we pulled away what was there and replaced it with new, vibrant materials that would last the entire summer. The work was hot and it took more time, but it taught an important lesson. Being superficial doesn’t last.

As you move forward in your lives, you will find ample opportunities to be superficial. To make judgements about people based on what they look like, or to like or not like something based on a 15 second clip you find on the internet. To just “do the minimum” on an assignment for a class that you’re really not that in to.

My challenge to you is simple. Don’t be superficial. It will be extra work, and will require extra time. You might find sometimes that your first instinct was right, and that you don’t like something. But more often, you will find the extra effort was worth it.

Note: Each year, secondary principals get the opportunity to make short speeches at spring events. I try to organize mine around a theme and selected “Lessons I’ve Learned” for the past school year. This is the third of three posts with my remarks for students, today, taken from our Eighth Grade Ceremony.


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