I woke up this morning with the song “Juicy” by Biggie Smalls in my head. The lyric “it was all a dream” kept repeating in my head. The previous evening I found out one of my friends and colleagues at a previous school I worked at had passed away due to an automobile accident. It was a shock to me. This person was a great educator. A true changer of lives.
The memories of my interactions with my colleague rushed into my head. We played basketball before school many times. I would often stick my head into his classroom and ask questions about how to better communicate with students. He always was open to chat. He was very personable and really cared about helping students advance their learning. Many times, students would speak of how awesome his class was.
We didn’t always talk about education. We spoke of our previous jobs outside of education as well. He was a corporate trainer for a while. I was always curious about being a corporate trainer. With his insight, he taught me that it wasn’t for me. He was always looking out for people in this way.
As he moved into a dean’s role then into an Assistant Principal’s role, he continued to care for people in the organization. He gave a positive spark to the school. He always had an open door policy and would tell you his real thoughts about anything. Even if he didn’t agree with you, he always tried to understand where you were coming from.
I remember the last time I saw him a year and a half ago. I was in Chicago walking to an apartment to interview a previous student for my 58th Disrupt Education podcast. As I was crossing a street, I turned and there he was. He was sitting in his car at the light. He gave me a smile and had the same look of surprise that we both crossed paths in a city filled with millions of people. We waved to each other and the light turned green and we were both on our way.
That smile on his face that day is burned into my memory.
All the memories of our conversations about education weighs heavy on my mind. It is another reminder to embrace the journey and not the destination. The end can come at any time. It is what he instilled in his students as do I.
Live curiously. Learn every moment you can. Don’t fight with life. Embrace it.
During my commute to work this morning I was playing Pandora in my car. Juicy by Biggie came on. I knew it was my late friend’s doing. I knew he was sending this to me. It gave me chills. I smiled as I sang along “....It was all a dream.”
(This blog is dedicated to Jason Dennis, a truly amazing educator. Rest in Peace)
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