I was walking through Macy’s with my husband when I heard, “Mrs. Shoop!” and two big arms encircled me in a bear hug. I looked up into a smiling face with twinkling eyes. The man let go of me and said, “Mrs. Shoop, how have you been?” I replied that I was fine, still trying to remember the name of this student from many years ago.
He was at least 6 feet tall and probably over 200 pounds. I looked up at his face and started to remember his eyes and smile, but could not remember his name.
I introduced him to my husband and he shook hands introducing himself as Al. -- Al? -- I didn’t remember a student named Al. He introduced us to his mother-in- law and explained that I was his old Principal.
And -- I began to think really old, if I couldn’t remember his name. I’ve been at StarShine Academy for over 8 years and I didn’t think we ever had a graduate named ‘Al.’ We talked for a moment longer and he told me a little about his life, job and what his brothers were doing. I smiled and nodded all the time trying to place the face and name.
After a few minutes, we said good-by. Al gave me another big hug and we went on our way. As we walked away, I leaned over to my husband and said, “I know that student, but I don’t have a clue who he is.”
This was going to drive me crazy!
When we got to our car, I closed my eyes and tried to visualize his face, smile and twinkling eyes as a teenager and not a grown man. We drove along in silence and all of a sudden, it came to me. Before I was Principal at StarShine Academy, I was Principal for the Ombudsman Schools. That was over 10 years ago. Al was a graduate from Ombudsman. In high school, we called him ‘Alfred’ and he had been a wonderful, smart and kind student. It warmed my heart that he remembered me all these years.
That encounter was a perfect reminder of why I am an administrator, why schools can make a difference with every child and why it is important to teach, mentor and volunteer.
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