From the Desk of Dr. Sands

Hard Work, Lessons Learned

Posted: November 2, 2015

Many years ago, I was living in Rhode Island, a state that was suffering through a significant recession. I had part-time positions teaching an Intro theatre course at the University of Rhode Island, as well as writing a column as a movie and theatre critic for the Narragansett Times. I absolutely loved teaching, writing, and being a mother to my three wonderful children.

My circumstances changed dramatically, and I found myself alone, needing to support my children. There were no jobs available. Having led a life of some privilege, I had no idea how to apply for or even manage a low-paying job for which I had no experience, but these were the only openings I could find. I did therefore feign great blue-plate special skills when applying for work in a diner. Fortunately, I knew how to work hard, but I would come home exhausted at night to my barely teenage daughter who had managed her two little brothers while I was at work. She would lay out soft clothes for me to put on as I took off my uniform to throw in the wash, removing the smell of industrial, faux maple syrup and authentic second hand smoke.

I worked harder than I ever had and, at the same time, gained the trust of the women with whom I worked. I helped them with complicated forms and answered questions about parenting, gave tips on how to leave abusive relationships and explained how important it was to do so. My children learned that nothing was beneath me when it came to caring for them, and that I could be friends with good and decent people from all walks of life.

My stint in the diner was fortunately short lived, but my takeaway was that I had a deep and abiding appreciation for those who work invisibly to make our lives better. That I would not rely on my family to “fix” a situation was vexing to them, but I suppose I felt both proud and stubborn. My resilience has been my strength, because adversity is always part of a well-lived life. My children have grown up respectful of everyone’s position and job.

Our students exhibit this same trait, and it is a reflection of your family values that they do so. It makes me proud to see them be respectful of all the people who work to make Marlborough such an amazing place, and we are here to remind them that the mess they may inadvertently leave at the end of the day is an added burden for the hardworking people who maintain our beautiful campus. It is unintentional and often just forgetful behavior.

I can tell you that it’s always appreciated when our girls say hello, make eye contact, and say thank you to the maintenance, Café M, and security staff, all of whom take deep pride in the work that they do, keeping us clean, sparkling, and safe. They are professionals; many have been employed here at Marlborough for decades. It is why our Core Value of Community is inclusive and worthy of our best selves. Thank you for setting this example at home, and we will reinforce it at school. No one knows when their circumstances may change, and everyone should be honored for a job that is done with pride and dedication. We are a better school for all of the people who work in honor of our mission.

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Welcome to my blog, a home for my observational musings on life, learning, and leading this wonderful school. I am excited to share my thoughts with you, and am always interested in hearing yours in return. Thank you for visiting, reading, and reflecting!


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