Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A very sad goodbye

First grader Chris with Mr. Blanck
With our kids spread out so far (6 years between Chris and Kieran, and 3 years between Kieran and Nick), we will be at our elementary school for a very, very long time...a grand total of 16 years. It's a wonderful small neighborhood school with a student size of about 320, generally with two classes per grade.

John Blanck has been our principal since Chris started kindergarten, 9 years ago. He's been there for 11 years total, the longest the school has ever had one principal. The man is truly gifted and beloved. He's out there every morning and afternoon, helping at the crosswalk and greeting each child BY NAME. He walks the hall and visits the classrooms. I've seen him sweeping the cafeteria while wearing an apron. No task is too small for him. He has a rare gift of connecting personally with children, teachers, and parents alike. We were truly hoping he'd be there for our entire tenure, but that was probably too much to hope for. Now he is retiring.

With kindergartener Kieran
We learned in the fall that he would be retiring, and that was hard enough to swallow, but then he announced in November that his plans had changed. He would be spending the last half of the school year working in the district office--he's taken on an interim position hiring principals and vice-principals. We've been given an interim principal, and fortunately John will be in charge of hiring the school's next principal. So good news and bad news.

Friday was his last day, and the school held an assembly to say goodbye. Each class had a few minutes and sang a song, said a poem, or presented him with a book of memories. Kieran's amazing teacher had written a song to the tune of "Wimoweh," and the second graders sang it to him. They were fantastic, and received a resounding ovation. Other parents and staff said that we won the award for the tear-jerking song ("Hush my children, don't cry my children, Mr. Blanck is leaving today...").

Beloved John Blanck, listening to the first graders

Leading the second graders

Kieran in blue stripes, and the wonderful teacher/composer in the red vest!

There's Mike helping me lead the music

All of the kids were so sweet. John has left some very big shoes to fill. I believe that principals are so critical for setting the tone of the school, and he did that wonderfully. It has always felt like a little community. I especially feel for the staff, who are losing a supportive, nurturing boss. Chris' fourth grade teacher told us at the end of the day that when she came to visit the school after having a baby, John not only held the baby but also changed his diaper! How many people can say that about their boss??

As the sign in front of the school said on his last day, the school will be "blanck" without him there.


  1. What a sweet goodbye and a lovely post to commemorate it! My husband and I are both educators, and it warms my heart to read about a man who has clearly made such an impression on your community and how appreciated his dedication has been. Merry Christmas to you and yours and best wishes to Mr. Blanck on his next adventure :-)

  2. Thanks so much for your comment. We have been very lucky to have had Mr. Blanck leading our school for so many years. Merry Christmas!

  3. I was so touched by your song that day - was truthfully almost speechless; I remember so many examples of your wonderful creativity, but the guitar playing just added to my amazement. It has been an honor to know you and your children, and will want to stay in touch with you! - Thanks so much, John

  4. Thanks John. We feel the same way about you!