Writing Sample - Acknowledgement Remarks

Governor's Luncheon, California Educator Awards

It is ironic for me to be receiving an award for leadership in junior high school administration; because it was in junior high, 30 years ago, that I experienced my greatest personal failure. Literally, I was expelled from school during the middle of my eighth grade year for bad conduct, rock-bottom grades—and a real attitude.

I feel safe in assuming that I am probably the only person in this room who can claim that distinction.

But that background has served me well, because it taught me some valuable lessons: that few failures are permanent; that no student is hopeless; and that caring adults can make a difference. If there is a philosophy that I have tried to instill at C— Junior High School during my tenure there, it is probably based on those three principles.

It is obvious that no school succeeds because of the efforts of a single individual. From the beginning, I had the immeasurable help of a supportive board of education, an outstanding faculty and staff, concerned and involved parents, and—of course—the gift of hundreds of wonderful youngsters who were entrusted to our jurisdiction.

Certainly this award belongs to all of them as much as it does to me.

It is easy to criticize public education. It is easy for those of us who are working within the system to feel discouraged by the daily and sometimes overwhelming tasks of educating children in the rapidly changing world we live in—challenges that we never seem to meet quite as successfully as we had hoped.

But I think we must never lose sight of the fact that in the classrooms and the libraries and the science labs and the playing fields and the rehearsal halls of our campuses, a priceless work is going on.

The teachers here today, and those we have come here to represent, who have awakened the curiosity... or the confidence ... or the intellect ...or the ambition ... or the idealism ... of even a few of the students in their care—those teachers have ignited a spark that can light our world.

I can think of no finer work, and I am proud to be considered among those who accomplish that work. I am proud to be the recipient of this wonderful award. And I am proud to be here with you this afternoon.

Thank you very much.