Do it for the real MVP

It’s not necessarily a good idea to compliment Kevin Durant in my state.  The 2013-2014 most valuable player in the NBA left the Oklahoma City Thunder to play for the Golden State Warriors.  Lots of fans here took that news hard, but here’s one thing KD nailed better than a buzzer beater.  In his acceptance speech, he credited his mother for being such a formative presence in his life and called her, “the real MVP.”  Here’s a small clip of that speech if you want to check it out on this Mother’s Day.  You can find it at Particularly on this day, I’ve thought about the support and encouragement I’ve had to do what I do, and I dedicate my career and my passion to these incredible mothers.

My mom was a mom to three sons and six grandchildren.  I’m the only son still living and my three children are her only living grandchildren.  She was a single mom in the 1970’s when it was far from trendy or as common as it is today.  She went with me to Father-Son events in scouting and sports.  She didn’t miss a ball game or a concert unless my brothers were playing somewhere else and then she made sure one of my grandparents was there.  Hollywood could never write a script to do justice to what she’s overcome through faith and grace, yet she’ll never be invited to be on Oprah so few will know her accomplishments.  She has been a piano teacher since she was a teenager and she not only taught me to love music, but she taught me how to work towards excellence in everything I had a chance to do.  She’s done this with thousands of students from elementary to community college.  She taught me about work ethic and unconditional love.  As an educator, I try to work tirelessly for the students and staff who need support and encouragement like my mom did for me.  She’s my real MVP, so I do what I do and I try to do it with excellence because of what a great teacher of life she was for me.

My wife knew I wanted to teach and coach when we got engaged and she said yes anyway.  She’s been with me on this journey being an incredible mom to our three great kids.  She’s raised them when I was in the rain at a junior varsity football game or a middle school track meet hours away.  She’s taken care of them when I was at the stadium or in a gym for almost an entire weekend.  She’s held down the fort while I was at conferences or taking students on trips.  She even let me continue my growth as I completed my master’s degree “in case I ever needed it.”  I didn’t leave the classroom for a job in administration for another decade, and then I went to start on my doctorate.  I know she was thinking, “Why does an assistant principal need a doctorate degree?”  I often wonder the same thing; but she knows I’m a learner.  I have to push myself.  There are still questions that need exploring whether or not they will get answers.  There are still kids that haven’t been reached yet.  Because of the love and support my wife gives and the support she gives to our kids, she’s also the real MVP.  Thank you for letting me do this for a quarter of a century.  I love you.

But there are lots of other moms out there.  They send their kids to our schools.  They’ve prayed over them and hoped for them and dreamed dreams for them.  They haven’t been perfect because there’s never been a perfect parent, but every student in my building has a mom.  I need to do all I can to reach every student because every mom is hoping that I, as well as the other staff around me, will find a way to break through.  Whether or not you are a mom yourself, moms want to see their kids make it.  They want to see them successful.  They don’t want to see them hurt or struggle at school, either academically or socially.  The stakes are high, and we have an obligation to do it for all moms regardless of their social status, background or zip code.

So if you’re an educator and you’re dealing with someone’s child tomorrow or next week or next month or year, I hope you’ll remember why you’re there.  I hope you’ll remember that a mom sent their child to you and entrusted him or her to you.  Maybe if we looked at each child, and thought about the hopes and dreams of a mom, we might find a way to be more patient and more accessible.  We might find a way to remember that we should all do it for the real MVP’s — the moms.  Do it for them!


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