A Principal's Confession: I Pray for my Students

I am the very proud principal of the Hartford Area Career and Technology Center (HACTC). And I have a confession to make.


I Think about my students.


Frequently.


And I Pray for them, too.


More frequently.


Yes. More frequently.


Thoughts and Prayers, if you will.


The phrase connotated lately to mean ‘ineffective.’


Uttered or shouted or hashtagged from elephant to donkey.


Or visa versa.


From the emotional to the irrational.


To signify uselessness.


Or inaction.


But I don’t care about any of that.


That is their ironic, hypocritical conversation.


About a symptom. Not the problem.


Mental illness is the problem.


Most educators know that.


If they do not, they are not paying attention.


So, I will still Think and Pray.


Because both are action.


To me.


And not ineffective. Or useless.


And I will do both frequently.


Every day, in fact.


Guilt free.


Blocking out the uttering. And the shouting. And the hashtagging.


Mostly in the morning.


On the green couch in my living room.


With knees on the carpet and elbows on the middle cushion.


Just to the left of the yogurt stain.


But I also Think and Pray in school.


Before the students arrive.


Sitting in their chair.


In their classroom.


Thinking and Praying for wisdom.


For them.


So they can know how to handle their struggle with their parents.


Who, while drunk, tattooed them with pen ink.


Because it was 'fun.'


And ‘bonding.’


Bonding is suppose to hurt and embarrass, right?


And I Think and Pray about Hope.


For them.


Because they have just lost a brother.


Or another family member. Or a close friend.


To heroin.


Fucking heroin.


And I Think and Pray about strength.


For them.


When they cut themselves.


On their arms. Or their thighs. For the release. Of pain. And emotion.


Trying to hide the cuts under baggy sweatshirts and sweatpants.


Only to be thankfully betrayed by the blood stains.


Or their tears.


Or their slow gait.


Or their silence.


Sometimes I Think and Pray quickly.


Three seconds.


When I touch their shoulder.


Or high five them.


When I suspect a struggle.


And some of my teammates do it, too.


Think and Pray.


Sometimes we do it together.


So do many educators.


Silently crying out for mercy for our students.


For them to just catch a break.


And yes, we Think and Pray for the good things, too.


To play well in their try outs.


To ace their test.


To get the job they applied for.


To be well. And healthy. And happy.


Thinking and Praying.


Thoughts and Prayers.


Thinking and Prayers.


Thoughts and Praying.


Whatever.


Either way is a catalyst for action .


Because action begins as a thought first. Does it not?


And action changes things. Does it not?


And Prayer?


Prayer doesn’t work retroactively.


I admit that.


I have not yet known God to change what has already happened.


He will not do that.


But he will change it going forward.


That I have seen.


Consistently.


To oppose the effects of others’ Free Will.


And support long-term change and growth and strength and influence.


Even when it seems those are so very far away. And not what will happen.


So I have learned to Think and to Pray.


And hope others will, too.


Even if their thought is not my thought.


Or their God is not my God.


Or any God at all.


Because both Thinking and Praying are action.


And useful.


And cause change.


And will help with the problem.


And eventually with the symptoms.


Even if it is only the silencing of the uttering, shouting, and hashtagging.

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