I’m sitting in my breakfast-nook-turned-office of our new home in our new town. I decided I should take a break from the tasks of my new jobs (yes, jobs – plural) and share with the blog reading world about a little surprise moment that occurred earlier this week.
One of my new jobs is as the dean of students for Crosslake Community High School, a new online high school in Minnesota. The school hired me to problem solve, work with their students to ensure attendance and work completion, and to handle items such as admissions, graduation plans, and guidance counseling. I love the school board’s approach to this new venture as they are very cautious about how to proceed. With no advertising at all, the program is full. A learning lab is open five days a week with a licensed teacher supervising and assisting students with their planning and course completion. I am working from my sweet office in my house.
On Tuesday, I decided a quick trip to meet with staff and visit my students would make my life happy. Thankfully, the Minnesota Twins played a winning game that evening as I drove across North Dakota and Minnesota. On Wednesday, I enjoyed my first “in person” full school day with the staff and students. Crosslake Community Charter School has a seat-based kindergarten through eighth grade program from which the need for a high school option came. Little people mix with my high school students in a way that reminded me of PACT Charter School. The staff and students were so warm and welcoming to me…and they are hardly know me!
I have had some amazing experiences in K-12 education in Minnesota.
After a great day with the staff and students at CCCS, I headed out. Because of our move, I needed to make a stop at the DMV in Pine River. It’s a long story as to why I was there, but I needed to take care of something…and doing it in person in Minnesota would speed up the process.
I had a hard time finding the right building. The DMV is housed in a building that seems to have multi-purposes. I think they sell watches, antiques, and jewelry there as well. Once I located the right building, I thought the transaction would be quick. Nope. First there was a problem with the person in front of me…and then there was a problem with me. The DMV person tried several times to make my credit card work, but it just wouldn’t go through.
“Do you have cash or a check?”
No. I never have cash. Well, not real cash. I often have change that totals a dollar or slightly more or slightly less. But I rarely have real cash. And I have a check even less often. I was about to give up and just drive home without accomplishing my task knowing that I could take care of it through the mail. But I really wanted to get it done! I was there…and I have a way to pay – just not in a way that was working. Grr…
What I haven’t told is that there was an older couple in line behind. They had patiently waited along with me through the issue of the customer in front of me, and they continued to patiently wait through my issue. We had made small talk, and it turned out they lived near my school.
“Could we help you out? I have a check…”
The retired woman got up from the waiting chair and took out her checkbook. The DMV person shared the amount with her. And before I could blink, the transaction was over, we had exchanged information, and I had promised to mail a check to pay them back.
As I drove away, I thought back to my hours of similar waiting experiences at the DMVs around the Twin Cities. They have systems that protect your privacy so that no one knows when you are frustrated, overwhelmed, or upset. Had a similar situation occurred in the Twin Cities, there would have been no opportunity for a kind person to know that I had an issue. It isn’t that people are nicer in small towns (though, that argument may be made by some). It is rather, due to the numbers of people, that systems have been made in larger cities to separate us from each other.
In order to return “small town kindness” in larger settings, we have to open our eyes and ears so that we can lend our hand to another. Some may call that nosy – that is not what I am advocating. Rather, I am urging us to look up from our feet (or our phones) and into the eyes of others around us to see the needs, some small…some great, and to offer our assistance when we can.
It is Friday.
Many of us have some time off in the next couple of days.
In the midst of what we have planned, do we have some margin available to give time to others? I would love for readers to come back and share ways that they have helped or have been helped over the weekend.
ps: I really love my students – and I think some of them like me!