Florida Times-Union writer Mark Woods wrote an article some time ago about parents at an Episcopal School losing perspective in undermining a results from a football game. He was surprised when, in response, he received a thank you email from the Head of Scool, Dale Regan. Woods writes on Jacksonville.com:
“As you can imagine this has not been the best week for me or our school,” she wrote. “No school head would be proud to have their school on the front pages as ours has been this week. But, I really want to thank you for your article. Again, I wish an Episcopal parent and employee weren’t part of your subject, but rightfully they were. And your message was excellent.”
She went on to share a message much more eloquent than anything I had written.
“Children are precious and important, but parenting needs to be patient, level-headed, loving and long-ranged rather than a ‘let me see what I can do to make everything all right for you,’ ” she wrote. “Parents need to be partners with educators and coaches in doing the right things to teach life lessons that sometimes are difficult.”
Now her family and school and community are grappling with something so absurdly difficult that it’s hard to find any lessons in it. But as we attempt to, it seems like we should come back to the way she led the school she loved.
Regan was shot and killed by a teacher that she fired. Woods was thankful that he saved the email from Regan, to help him reflect on what is really important:
Through the years, I’ve heard several stories about Regan being stuck between a rock and a hard-headed adult. And in each case, the story concluded with her making a tough decision and standing firmly on the side of what she believed was right. And that’s often not as simple as it sounds.
So this week, as we try to make sense of the senseless, that’s what I’ve been thinking about. That and how it put things in perspective. Super Tuesday seemed trivial. Having a mother facing cancer, not an assault rifle, seemed like reason to be thankful. I still have my mother. Two men younger than I am just lost theirs.
Regan ended that email with a hope that I’d return to her school and, as I had done when the wrestling team rallied around two disabled wrestlers from Ohio, write about some of the wonderful things happening there. And she added a sales pitch that she would repeat in later communications. She said I should send my daughter to her school.
“And some day … sooner than I know you will believe … I hope you and your wife will consider Episcopal for Mia!” she wrote. “I have been a teacher, coach, parent, administrator here for 33 years and proudly say that my children are the excellent young men they are in part because they were raised in this community.”
This undoubtedly is true. But so is this: The excellence in this community, in the school and beyond, is in no small part because of her.