Wednesday, April 12, 2017

"Our greatest weakness is in giving up.The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time." Thomas Edison

This week's guest blogger is Rob Liebow, Superintendent of Rockport Public Schools. Mr. Liebow recently recounted this memory at an RES staff meeting, and graciously agreed to write a post so it could be more widely shared. His message of resiliency is one we share with our students on a daily basis. 

I have been an educator working with young people for nearly forty years.  During this time I have held many positions in the public schools from teacher, coach and advisor to high school assistant principal, high school principal and now as a superintendent of schools.
As I look back on my long career in education, I often ask myself which of the positions I served in was most meaningful, both to me and more importantly to the students that I worked with on a daily basis.  Every time I ponder this question I come back to the realization that it was my role as a High School Assistant Principal where I had the greatest immediate impact on the lives of young people as they struggled to develop their own set of values to guide their lives as they grew older. An example that comes to mind most often occurred annually at our high school’s spring awards Pride Assembly for all of our students.  Teachers would line up at the podium to hand out a litany of the top academic student awards in their classes and certificates of perfect attendance. This went on for nearly an hour or more. The last award of the day - the "Most Improved Discipline Award " -  was mine to deliver. Each year I spent many hours choosing the recipient of the award. I looked for a student who had really done some serious soul searching, turned his or her attitude around,  and was making a real effort towards making positive changes in life.  The entire gymnasium would fall completely silent when I approached the podium to announce the recipient. After giving details of how the young person had struggled and how the situation had changed for the better, I would read the name aloud and call the student to the middle of the gymnasium to stand by me.  Without exception, each and every year, the person chosen would leap up and literally sprint to where I was speaking at the microphone. Their wide smile showed the real pride they took in being chosen for this award.  But more convincing of the meaningfulness of the occasion is the fact that their fellow students would all spring to their feet simultaneously and start rhythmically chanting the award winner’s first name over and over again while the recipient held the award high. This went on for over a minute, and was to me a clear sign from the student’s peers that they valued what the individual had achieved and recognized the importance of exercising self-control and personal resiliency. To get a sincere handshake and a thoughtful hug from a student who I most likely had suspended earlier in the year for tearing our school culture apart and dragging our school climate down in some horrible way made me feel proud that I had made a true difference in the life of that human being and the soul of our school community.         


  1. It is an honor to work with the world's greatest asset~ our young people. I don't think I'll ever tire of hearing how educators impact the daily lives of students. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Thanks for sharing. So many moments like this go unnoticed or no one ever knows about them.

  3. When the focus shifts to being good humans, it seems everything else falls into place:) This story reaffirms the importance we have on our students beyond the classroom.