Back to Previous Page

When the Principal Has a Heart Attack at School (a Heartwarming Tale)

blog_newWhen analyzing the relative merits of the teaching profession, one of the challenges often raised is that teachers (and I would posit principals as well) must always be ‘on’. It is difficult, if not impossible, to close the door and have a quiet workday in the face of the daily barrage of students’ needs that keep roaring towards us day in and day out.

So when we are faced with life hardships, divorce, illness, death, it’s hard to manage work and life. Except, if you are lucky, you can work in a place where your colleagues have become a family of sorts for you. In that case, schools can feel like home, with a layered tapestry of care – ready to help provide love and support.

IMG_1646 (2)

Santo at home recovering.

Such is the case for Santo and I. Last Friday Santo experienced a heart attack at school. It is notable and indicative of who he is that he worked furiously to get his last Pennington Street Block Party tweet out before asking Britta, our PFFS-U school secretary, to call 911 and then help him upstairs so he could be whisked away by the ambulance minutes before school let out and the kids would be impacted. Then, in the midst of the happy chaos that accompanies the set-up for the annual Block Party, Chad, our Assistant Principal, hurriedly found coverage from staff for all the end of the day/block party festivity duties – for which everyone quickly chipped in – and then he spent the evening at the hospital until I got there at 10:00 that night.


Chad Blair

When all of this was happening I was in Chicago, on a layover returning from my work in Fairfax County, Virginia. It was so hard being away, but I’m extremely grateful for the support we received. Five days and five stents later Santo is home from the hospital. We expect him to fully recover. We look forward to a new healthy regime. It will take a few weeks, possibly months. Already plans are in place to figure out how to close the giant gap his absence will make at school. People have been so gracious and forthcoming with their offers of assistance.

Thank You Paulo Freire Staff

IMG_2266I have been overwhelmed by the messages of support. Literally overwhelmed. To all of you who reached out only to have me awkwardly mumble something in response and hurry away, I apologize. As public as much of my life is, an event like this feels deeply personal and private. Please know that I really, really, appreciate your prayers and well wishes. I just have trouble talking about it. I guess writing works better for me. I hope you get to read this and know that I’m seeing your faces/messages as I write.


These photos were taken at a staff retreat this past July. Thank you to our amazing staff – our family!

In an effort to celebrate teachers, many organizations will highlight “Teachers of the Year” awards. We have truly exceptional teachers on our staffs – it’s a shame they haven’t been recognized in this way. I have sat down to nominate teachers several times, but always balk and then don’t follow through. I can’t in good conscience. IMG_2281We are playing a team sport. We always do our best work when we collaborate. And truthfully, we are always collaborating. We help each other, push each other, and hold each other accountable, in kind and supportive ways. IMG_2265We laugh, plan, commiserate, celebrate together. We share the love of our students and our work and perhaps most significantly, each other. This week I have felt that love and feel blessed.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterPin on PinterestShare on TumblrShare on Google+Share on LinkedIn