One of the joys of living close to the school I work at is that I often run into students or alumni around the Columbia/Ellicott City area. At least three or four times a week, I find myself running errands, grabbing some food, watching a movie, or getting some shopping done and I hear “Hey Mr. Novak!” and there is a student at the register or an alumnus at the table next to me. Whether its McDonalds, Chipotle, Target, Smoothie King, Homeslyce, Panera, AMC Theaters, Regal Cinemas, or even walking through Columbia Mall (my last two weeks of student spottings), I’ll see a familiar face or hear someone call out my name.
I didn’t always enjoy the “celebrity status” that came from being a teacher, an assistant principal, and then principal. How nice it might be just to go out and about without being recognized! But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that being in the limelight wasn’t such a bad thing after all. I mean, think about the alternative–what if students saw me coming in a store and turned the other way? When I went up to the register, what if the alum working conveniently had to go on break? Talk about a blow to the ego.
Now I celebrate the fact that students feel comfortable talking to me in public. I guess it means I’m doing something right! In the field of education, we have always focused on the 3 R’s-reading, (w)riting, and (a)rithmetic. But let’s not forget the most important R-relationships! I’ve come to terms with the fact that being principal is pretty much a 24-7 commitment. Developing those relationships, even if it’s in aisle 7 of the local Giant on a Sunday morning, is just part of the job, and one I truly enjoy! Maybe that’s how I’ll know when to call it quits–when a “hey Mr. Novak” outside of school doesn’t bring a smile to my face. For now, bring it on!