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First Oprah Now Mr. Walden?!

I've been to school's in my lifetime where I knew we had a Principal, I just never saw them.  Or, I saw our Principal and just wasn't that impressed. The Principal of my daughter's school is leaving... and I'm incredibly sad.

Mr. Walden has been the Principal of Astor Elementary School, Portland, OR for 13 years.  He is involved, he presence is seen and felt, he is the kids biggest supporter and cheerleader, and a wonderful listener when you come to him with your concerns.  I know that there have been some bumps in the road with communication and understanding, but things are never 100% when you are dealing with the education and emotions of parents and their children.

I know I won't be able to stand and tell my "Mr. Walden Story" at the gathering this evening, I'd cry the whole time - how annoying.  So, I thought I would write it out, get it out here in my own little blog world.

****
Into the 3rd week of my daughters second grade year I drove to the school to meet her on the sidewalk outside the classroom doors like I had been doing for years.  When I arrived at the school the bell had run and children were running to their parents/guardians, school buses, what have you.  I waited a while and my daughter didn't show up.  I walked into the classroom and her teacher told me that she had left the classroom along with everyone else.  O.K.

I went back to the sidewalk and looked around.  Walked back into the classroom and told her teacher I couldn't find her.  Together we walked around the outside of the school building while her former kindergarten and 1st grade teachers checked the bathrooms and hall ways.

I was doing my best to stay calm but inside I was panicking.  While walking back to the front of the school I saw the prinicipal, Mr. Walden, and he asked what was going on.  I told him that I couldn't find Katie and he stayed calm.  (Which kind of pissed me off because I was panicking, but I knew deep down that he was handling this the correct way.)

He asks me, "Who are her friends?  Would she have walked home with anyone?"  My answer is, 'I know of one girl. But No. We haven't had any playdates yet.  I'm not ready for that.'  (breathing, breathing)  He asks, "Is there anyone she's talked about?"  Then I remember that she has been wanting to go to a classmates house but I don't know this girls parents, where she lives, anything other than her first name.  I give Mr. Walden the girls first name and he and her teacher walk to the office.

Within minutes Mr. Walden is walking out of the school with his car keys.  He told me, "I'm going to the girls house.  I'll be right back."  I am scared.  So, so scared.  I would never wish this feeling upon any parent.

10 ve-e-e-e-ery lo-o-o-o-ong minutes later Mr. Walden is pulling up to the school with my daughter in the back seat.  He opens the door for her to get out, walks her over to me, then he returns to the schools office.  I'm blubbering.  Beyond relieved.  Katie was determined to go to her friends house to play, and since I was all of 2 minutes late in meeting her on the sidewalk she decided to walk home with her friend.  (At 13 years of age she continues to go after what she wants.  God help us all.)

I thanked Mr. Walden with a hand-made card and our sincerest gratitude. It's never felt like enough.

He proved to me that day that we were in good hands, that we were being watched and cared for.  That's what you want when you allow your children to be under someone else's guidance.  Thank you for taking such wonderful care of us all these years, Mr. Walden.  We'll miss you.

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