Sunday, July 24, 2016

Love, Laughter, and Leadership

Ten years ago, I met Kim Dobson.  At that time, Kim was my secretary at Arlington Jr/Sr. High School.  As a new Assistant Principal, I was eager to move into a leadership role and felt that I had now become a leader with my new title.  As is often true, leadership does not come from a title, it comes from a person who deeply cares about people, loves unconditionally, and connects with people on every level.  This was Kim's role, I learned a tremendous amount from her and will forever be grateful for her friendship.

In addition to her role as secretary, Kim was the dance team leader.  The dance team became one of the "must see" events in Arlington.  I remember some people coming to football and basketball games just to see the dance team.  Our school took much pride in them and saw this team take home several state championships under Kim's leadership.
Kim with members of her
dance team.

Kim knew the right amount to lead this team and the right amount to let the team lead itself.  Every year, Arlington's dance team had several outstanding leaders.  Kim knew that she could turn over much of the leadership to these athletes.  She supported them in every way that she could.  She would be there early and would do activities with them in the summer.  She was there for them when the girls needed her.  She cared so deeply about them and I know that the care was a two way street.

Kim's love extended to the school but
her first love is her family.
Kim loves Arlington and all of the students who attend and attended Arlington schools.  Being a secretary can be difficult.  When a parent is upset with someone they call the school and the first line that they get to is the secretary.  I think everyone knew how much Kim loved the kids.  Because of that, they listen to her.  Her opinion matters.  So often, people who called upset or concerned with an issue left the conversation with an understanding that we were there FOR their child.  Kim does this better than anyone.  Her deep love of the students and their families put people at ease and built relationships that helped our students.

Kim loves the staff at Arlington.  The genuine love and care made it so that people wanted to be around her and looked to her for answers.  This was more than being a secretary at a school.  This was a care for a whole community.  People who didn't have a connection to the school looked to Kim for help.  I remember many times when people would call the school for a phone number to a local business.  I thought, wow, people look to Kim for everything.  I don't think they were simply calling for a number, they were looking for a reason to talk to Kim.

Me posing as Arlington's dance
 trophy while holding the trophy.
Kim sent this picture to me
years after leaving Arlington.
My favorite part of Kim is the laughter we shared.  As a young administrator, I was learning to deal with the day to day stress that was a part of my job.  I often didn't handle things perfectly and sometimes was far from perfect.  Kim and I laughed a lot during my 6 years in Arlington.  This is easily the thing I miss the most about working with her.  We had several jokes we shared.  Sometimes we would "write each other up."  Sometimes the jokes were slightly inappropriate but not at the expense of others.  Other times we would write stories that would make each other laugh.  We would have pictures and drawings that were inside jokes.  There was so much laughter in the office, sometimes we forgot that we were "working."   One time, we were in her office laughing about something and pretty much goofing around when a parent entered.  We both immediately went into our business mode and we helped the parent.  I can't remember what it was about but I helped the parent and they left with their question or concern answered.  After the parent left, I remember Kim's response to this situation was "Wow, sometimes I forget that you are actually smart."  We spent so much time goofing around that we knew all sides of each others personalities.  I guess the "smart" side of me didn't come out that often in front of her.
Another picture she sent me.
She titled this picture "Smarty."
I don't have pictures of Kim
because she's always behind the

I left Arlington for a job in another district.  About every two months or so, I receive an email or a picture from Kim.  These are things Kim saved that I had either sent her or of pictures that made her laugh.  Even after I left, we still laughed together.  But this is really who Kim is.  Kim cares about everyone she comes in contact with, she shows them love, and laughter is a constant.  Leadership comes from many places.  Leadership may not be the first thing people think of when they think of Kim.  She never puts herself out there as a leader.  It wasn't her desire to be recognized.  She simply became a leader because of who she is and how she has impacted those around her.

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