Her grandmother brought her up to the school to enroll her just the other day. She walked up to the window in the front office, saw me and asked, “You ready to come back?” I replied with a smile, “I’m not ready to see you, but I am ready to see those two girls.” About that time a little face peeked out from behind grandmother’s back holding a huge shy grin. We talked about summer for a minute. She didn’t have much to say, just smiled and smiled. 

I can’t imagine a child having much worse of a year than those two did last year. One parent left this earth way too early. The other gone for other reasons. After all of that, the two of them had to leave our school for a little while as the custody dispute settled. A few weeks in a strange school environment all the way across the county from the only school they have known, only to come back where they belonged the whole time. Not exactly how I would design a child’s first grade or Pre-K experience. I haven’t been around very long, but in a short time I have learned that, all too often, it doesn’t go the way we wish it would for so many of our children. 

There are two things we know well at Madison Cross Roads. The first, no matter how hard it gets for our kids, life keeps going. And the second, our people  better keep bringing their best, because for those kids…life keeps going. And it’s not easy. I mean, some days are easy. Lots of days are easy, actually, because we love kids and we love what we do. But dang, some days are hard. Really hard. Because there is only so much that you can do. You want to give them the world, but it isn’t yours to give. You want them to have the best life possible, but that isn’t yours to control. And it’s tough. 

I’ve seen every side as an educator. I’ve done rural, small town. Inner city. Private school. Title 1. County systems, city systems. Well-balanced communities. And truth be told...all of them are special, because all of them are home to children who need a place that values them. And all of them are places where adults sacrifice every day because they value children. And that makes them special. 

But it takes a different kind of love and compassion to survive where we are. When people ask, I say it like this, “If you don’t have an incredible love for these kids, you won’t be here long.” It’s too overwhelming. 

I applaud anyone who gives their life to educate children. Education is the key to success in life, especially in the world we live in. And for all those kids who are loved, nurtured, and valued at home...the ones who come to school to be educated, I pray we give them the highest quality education we can. Schools were started for the purpose of educating children...preparing them for life and a future. It’s a beautiful thing to be a part of. 

But sometimes school is the place where children feel nurtured, loved, and cared for. Sometimes it’s the teacher that puts the little bows in her hair because nobody pays attention to her at home. Sometimes it’s the bus driver that the little boy can’t wait to see because she is the first person to say “Good morning.” Sometimes the classroom and the hallway are the only places that they see smiles and receive hugs and feel accepted and safe and welcomed. And sometimes...loving them is way more crucial than educating them. 

It was great seeing our two little ones yesterday. I’m glad grandma brought them back to us. I’m glad grandma is able to give them the love and care they deserve, the home they deserve. Seeing that smile made my day because it tells me two things. First, our people made her feel safe, loved, and valued…she is happy at our school. At a time when one of our children needed love, compassion, and joy…we gave it to her.  I couldn’t be more proud. And second, she’s going to have a great year this year. We laid the perfect foundation to build on.

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.” Matthew 7:24

Adam Walker