May 12, 2016

When you have your health, you have everything

TPP Director Ed Walent thinking through the concept
of differentiation with teacher candidates
We have a lot to be grateful for. And sometimes it takes outside events to remind us of this.

As many of you know, Friends’ is the home to a highly successful, nationally-known, Teacher Preparation Program. Not only do we have our six teacher candidates working in classrooms at Friends’, we partner with nine other schools – independent, charter and public schools – to provide outstanding teacher training to more than thirty new educators every year.

Friends’ is an agency designated by the State of Colorado to confer Colorado Initial Teaching Licenses to our program’s graduates in either Elementary Education or Early Childhood Education. Participants in the Program may also choose to complete a Master’s degree in Education and Human Development through Friends’ partnership with the University of Colorado Denver.

The parents and students of Friends’ School know the teacher candidates in their classrooms well.  They often know some of the other teachers-in-training who are placed in other classrooms in the school, but they don’t get to meet teacher candidates who are placed in other schools, and they don’t know our Teacher Preparation Program (TPP) staff very well.

The TPP is extremely ably run by Director Ed, Walent and Program Manager, Julie Hart.  You may see them waving at you in the parking lot some Tuesday mornings. Ed has been at Friends’ for five years, and Julie has served in various teaching roles, and now this position, at Friends’ for many of the past twelve years.

In mid-April, Ed received some bad news.  After he noticed some unusual symptoms, Ed’s doctor discovered that he needed to undergo quadruple bypass heart surgery.  Through some family contacts, Ed was able to be admitted to the Mayo Hospital in Phoenix, and underwent surgery on April 20.

Ed is now back home, recovering slowly but surely.  We miss seeing him, learning from him and laughing with him every day around Friends’, but we know he is at home taking care of the most important work of all, which is to return to full health.

Last weekend, Ed’s former co-director of the TPP, Shelby Pawlina, who is now director of our brand new middle school, went to visit Ed.  This was no easy task, as Shelby heself had just returned from the doctor where she learned she had ruptured her Achilles heel.  Shelby injured it playing in our annual staff vs. fifth grade soccer game!  Shelby is currently on crutches and will find out soon about potential surgery.

While at Ed’s house, Shelby had the task of informing Ed about another major injury in our Friends’ community.  Tayler Bledsoe, a Friends’ School alumna student, and daughter of our administrative assistant and Alumni Association coordinator Jana Bledsoe, was involved in a serious scooter accident last week, resulting in severe injuries.

Needless to say, this has not been a good few weeks for several members of our community.

The good news is that all three are expected to make full and complete recoveries.  All will be well.

In a recent email communication with Ed, he reminded me of the well-known adage: “When you have your health, you have everything.”  For those whose health is suddenly, or even not
Ed Walent
so suddenly, taken away from them, this is such a truism. 

For those of us who are lucky enough to be in good health, it is sometimes easy to forget how fortunate we have things.

As the parent of two teenage daughters, and as the leader of a school, it is a rare day when something challenging doesn’t occur, or someone doesn't approach me with a complaint, or an issue that must be solved.  Some of these problems are major and genuine, and need my immediate attention. Something is wrong and it needs to be fixed.

More often than not however, when put into real perspective, some of these problems might not be considered real problems at all. Rather, they are inconveniences, or a bother, that can often be solved by taking some time to put them into perspective.

Not as important as being knocked to the ground from a scooter, or having your chest sawn open.  Not as important as serious illness or the potential loss of life.

As a leader, it’s good to remember this perspective from time to time.  Perhaps even always.

All of us at Friends’ wish Tayler, Shelby and Ed a speedy recovery – and to anyone in your family who may be unwell or suffering at this time.

Enjoy the sunshine. 

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