This article was first featured as a guest post for SchoolFamily.com on June 4, 2012.
(Post by GARY DOI)
Whoever said that laughter does for emotional health what exercise does for the body knew what they were talking about. Laughter can add moments of brightness to even the darkest days. It can put a smile on your face—sometimes, when you most need it.
Laughter is a powerful antidote as it builds resilience and creates hopefulness. Or, think of it this way, a hearty laugh (or a gentle chuckle) is good for the soul.
As a former school superintendent I’ve worked with plenty of students, teachers and principals so I “own” a cupboard full of material. Some of the stories I treasure most are the light-hearted moments and situations with children. It is as Art Linkletter and Bill Cosby once proclaimed – Kids say the darndest things!
Here are a few schoolhouse anecdotes to tickle your funny bone!
One day I was in the hallway observing a class of students lining up for an assembly and overheard this curious
conversation between two grade 6 children.
“Do you know who that is?” said one of the boys looking in my direction.
“That’s the Superintendent,” replied his friend.
“Right. Do you know he can fire a school principal!” he said dramatically.
“Really?” said the other. “Imagine what he could do to students.”
A kindergarten child was sent to the principal’s office for acting up in class. The principal talked for several minutes with the young lad about his inappropriate behavior.
The child gazed about as the principal lectured about the importance of getting along with others. When the principal finished his “talk”, the child smiled and casually said, “Must be nice to be principal.”
The principal, who looked a little like the fictional character Friar Tuck (especially with the hair fringe) replied, “Well if you work hard, you may grow up to be a principal one day.”
“Really?” answered the five-year-old. “Would I have to get a haircut like yours?”
Spike was a pet lizard that the children of the school all adored. One day the children noticed that Spike’s skin color had changed from brown to dark black. Then Spike stopped breathing and lay collapsed in his glass container. Spike had given up the ghost and the news hit the children hard, leaving many in tears.
During the recess break (as most of the children were outside) the teacher reached in the cage to dispose of their beloved Spike. When she did, though, and much to her surprise – indeed shock – Spike raised his head and looked about. Perhaps wondering what all the fuss was about. Now, it was the teacher’s turn to change skin color, stop breathing and almost collapse.
The news of Spike’s resurrection (it was Easter time, after all) spread quickly as a young boy ran around the playground like the town crier shouting, “It’s a miracle! It’s a miracle! Spike lives!”
That’s toughness for you. When the chips are down and it appears that you are on your last legs, you persevere and live to fight another day. That should give anyone a small measure of hope and optimism—it certainly did for the children at that school.
Mrs. C was the school principal of a small, rural elementary school and Charlie (not his real name) was a Grade 4 student and a chronic visitor to the principal’s office. For Charlie, the office was a comfortable place to be.
Charlie struggled as a student, academically and socially. He had difficulty getting along with the other children and often used inappropriate language. He was constantly saying the F word—the actual F word.
Mrs. C was a dedicated, caring and compassionate principal who tried a variety of strategies to stop Charlie from using the F word. She talked with him about how upsetting it was for the other students and staff, discussed the importance of having school rules for bad behavior and bad language, tried to make connections with Charlie’s outside interests (which were quite limited) and even had a special meeting with Charlie’s mother. That’s when Mrs. C realized the scope of the problem. During the meeting, Charlie’s mother frequently used the F word to describe her views of the school and her son.
The end of the school year was nearing and Mrs. C publicly announced her retirement in the school newsletter. One day, as Charlie was leaving the principal’s office, he stopped at the door and asked her a question.
“Is it true you are leaving, Mrs. C?” said Charlie.
“That’s right, Charlie,” she said. “I’ve worked a lot of years and I am going to retire in the next month.”
Charlie didn’t say anything for a moment. He lowered his head a little and in a quiet voice said, “I’ll miss you Mrs. C. You’re the best F___ principal I’ve ever had.”
Mrs. C smiled broadly and thanked him, for Charlie – despite his use of language – was still a good person at heart.
Gary Doi, Founder-Editor (ahopefulsign.com)
Gary retired in 2009 after serving 18 years as School Superintendent in three British Columbia school districts. Previous to that, he had been a teacher, consultant, school administrator and university lecturer. He created the magazine blog “A Hopeful Sign” to foster the spread of hopefulness by encouraging people to live-learn-lead. By thinking and acting in hopeful ways. By supporting and encouraging others. One person, one group at a time. Follow Gary on Twitter or Facebook.Tweet