Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Relationships (Karen Morris)

Question:
Okay, Karen, now it's your turn. Many people probably don't realize that you are such an awesome caregiver. You often cook meals for those in need, you're very thoughtful with birthday cards, you never forget to thank someone that's helped you out (usually including a Starbuck's card for their troubles). My question is, why do you do so much for others? Especially when your time is so full, keeping track of your kids, running back and forth to the ball park, organizing play group activities, taking Sarah to Spanish classes, etc. etc. etc.

As much as I do love to write to people, I've pondered this question all week and actually procrastinated journaling this response. I guess it is the questions of "why" that threw me.

I can easily answer the how do you... ( write notes, remember to thank, etc...) I work late every Wednesday night (unless something big is going on - like tomorrow night...Halloween). I go home and make dinner and by 6:35 am back at school.

I stay until 10:30 when the custodians lock the doors. Although I really only have about 3-1/2 solid hours - I get all kind of things done because there are no interruptions! I work on lesson plans, write Target team referrals, catch up on my diagnostic and assessment notebook anecdotal notes, etc. And... I always spend the last 1/2 hour "loving on people" (as Stahlman used to say). I try to write "noticing notes" (to Chets grown-ups - teachers, staff, parents, etc.) or positive post cards... I really like my Wednesday nights and suggest this to anyone - especially if you have other obligations (like small children at home). My husband also gets a night to work late (and I catch up on laundry and whatever at home) and other than that we generally don't bring a lot of work home! I know this doesn't exactly answer the question that Lori asked...

So I guess I'll have to jump right in, "Why do you do so much for others?" I have been fortunate to work for good bosses in my employment history. Before teaching, I was a social worker and an Administrator and can tell you how each of my supervisors led by the example of running a tight ship and meeting goals, but complimenting worthy team members along the way. Shortly before delivering Sarah (and changing careers) one of the most rewarding professional moments came. As the Director of the Full Service School program in Jax, I was put in a position to apply for staff bonuses because our program exceeded its goals. I was able (right before Christmas) to sit with my 6 Full Service School Coordinators and 6 secretaries (and my secretary) individually and give them a $1500 check (each). It was completely unexpected and a big surprise. What a great day that was! (Social Service organizations don't get monetary recognition very often).

And then I became a teacher. A Chets Creek teacher. And I met Stahlman...

Stahlman (Dr. Terri Stahlman for those who don't know her well) built Chets on relationships, risk and rewards and walked the talk. She gave me a note on my first day of school (in Feb. 2000) with a pen that was both inspirational and motivational. She pushed me like I had never been pushed before - I remember one particular year after FCAT scores came out sitting in the conference room defending, analyzing, and reanalyzing my scores to her (not because she asked but because I felt I owed her an explanation). You would hit the bottom - feeling completely overwhelmed (and perhaps peeved because you didn't get a TS on the newsletter, but an "edit" instead...) and she would build you up with a note. It would highlight how she noticed your bulletin board, or it would thank you for helping at Arts Extravaganza, or it would say "Hang in There with Suzy Jones..." It would say I NOTICE you (and sometimes she would attach a $100,000 bar and tell you that you were worth more...) or if you really needed it - you would get a Starbucks card.

Stahlman's notes said - I appreciate you. And you would climb, climb, climb the next hill and move the next mountain.

Why do I try to build others up? Because someone built me up (or I wouldn't be here.) People told me I could do it. People told me I was on the right track - or that I'm doing a good job.

I like to cook for others or gift others because it makes me feel good to help people )I guess that's a selfish reason). I'm also lucky that I can - my husband is very supportive of me.

I believe in relationship.
Karen Morris

1 comment:

dayle said...

Karen, your answer really spoke to my heart. So many of us were touched by the intentional thoughfulness of Terri Stahlman. Even after so many years, the thought that she would take the time to stop by my room and leave me a note just started my whole year off right. Getting a note from her that said thank you meant so much. I still have every positive postcard she ever sent. She was a role model for me too in how to honor people I care about. I wonder if she knows what a dramatic impact she had on so many of us? dayle