By Dr. Brian G. Ricca
On Monday, February 6, a meeting was held in the East Greenwich High School Library. Those attending were told it was about the graduation requirements for the Class of 2028. However, some of us were told there was another reason: to honor Anne-Marie Flaherty as the Rhode Island School Counselor of the Year. Honestly, I think Ms. Flaherty was the only one who did not know.
Dr. Patricia Page and our EGHS staff organized a fantastic event with RIDE Commissioner Angelica Infante-Green and Lieutenant Governor Sabina Matos. They even offered me a few minutes to speak, which was very kind, as I’ve only known Ms. Flaherty for a few months. I had the honor of introducing the best speaker of the morning, Annalee Ambler.
Miss Ambler was authentic and honest and spoke earnestly about Ms. Flaherty’s role in her life. It was clear that their relationship was unique, and Ms. Flaherty beamed while Miss Ambler spoke. Our work is about relationships. That’s it. That’s the list.
Miss Ambler said something in her remarks that stayed with me that day and has been with me since.
“She [Ms. Flaherty] worked with my teachers and I to allow me to continue to be the best academic version of myself.”
That statement is stunning in its power and simplicity. That one sentence captures what we want to do as educators. From the mouths of babes comes the truth.
Miss Ambler’s best is just that: hers. It is unlike anyone else’s in our district. No one student’s best academic version of themselves looks like another’s. That’s the joy of education. That is why educators are some of the most amazing humans on the planet.
On a daily basis, juggling the reality of their own lives, our educators open classroom doors to students, embracing whatever each of their students brings to each day, and work to find their best academic versions. Sometimes those versions are right on top, plain for all to see. Far too often, those versions are buried beneath something else. Perhaps a student skipped breakfast because they overslept. Perhaps a student disagreed with a family member before going to school. Perhaps a student saw something on social media that has them distracted.
No matter what, our educators are there. And to be clear, I don’t just mean our teachers. Every member of our EGPS family plays a role in the lives of our students. Paraeducators support the work of classroom teachers. Facilities personnel make our aging buildings shine. Food service workers feed us daily. Administrative assistants are the first people we see in our buildings, “Directors of First Impressions.”
School counselors allow our students to be the best academic versions of themselves.
Thank you for being a shining example of that, Ms. Flaherty!
Dr. Brian G. Ricca