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Setting the Tone

It was more than 33 years ago, but I remember my first day of preschool like it was yesterday. This was not a great experience for a number of reasons which is why I have such a strong memory of it.


I attended a neighborhood preschool about three blocks from my home. I was pumped for school with my new book bag and shiny shoes, a fresh haircut, and all the essentials for Day 1. When it came time for snack, our teachers served bread cut in the shapes of dinosaurs with cheese spread on top and peanut butter. This did not sound too appetizing to me and to make things a little worse, buttermilk was the drink of choice. Following my mom and dad’s directions, I told my teachers no thank you on the dinosaurs and buttermilk. No thank you was simply not an option at this school. “Dan, you will eat every bit of your snack and drink all of your milk.” I was able to choke this down, not before throwing up on the floor due to the taste of these things. This was pretty terrible, but to add to the equation, one of my teachers said, “Dan, we don’t throw up here, you need to clean this up.” So, not only was an awful snack forced down, I also cleaned up my own vomit on my first day of school; maybe not the best of memories.


I bring this story up because this was one of the defining moments of my life. I realized at the age of 5, I am not going to be like that to other people. Unfortunately, this is the only vivid memory I have of preschool which is sad. There were many great things, I’m sure, but this one is burned in my mind. As educators and leaders, we have the opportunity to create great memories for our kids and the people we serve which they will think of as magical. I like to think we’re on that path. Will you create magic or dinosaurs, buttermilk, and vomit for the people you serve?

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