I recently had the pleasure of spending a morning at Santiago Elementary (K-8) in Santa Ana as “Principal for the Day” alongside my friend and a wonderful educator, Principal Jimmy Bruhl. I asked Jimmy to explain the benefit to them of welcoming a business person like me into their family for a day: his answer? “Networking – we want more people to know about the great work we are doing in the Santa Ana Unified School District (SAUSD).”

Well, Jimmy, you are certainly getting that, as I’m becoming a highly vocal fan of the greatness I’m experiencing around SAUSD.

However, something bigger happened to me that day. I had the chance to be around a whole lot of kids, little kids up to 8th graders. I saw how teachers engage them and help them be comfortable sharing, even with an “outsider” in the room. It also helped me much better understand my own teacher daughter and her impact on the high school kids she shapes.

The big thing that hit me hard during this visit was something very simple – it was the look in the eyes of all these kids. I was struck by the reality that every one of these faces is a future citizen of our community and that the “system” – including the schools and the myriad community and civic partners and resources that support them – have a deep and abiding responsibility to help these kids become the best version of themselves as they grow into valuable contributors to our society.

This is the kind of experience that we all need to have – getting out of our norm and our comfort zone and seeing what seemed to me a lot like the truth – something that’s really hard to deny once we face it. I wish you all the opportunity to learn great lessons from whatever it is that is most important to you.

Thanks for sharing time with me; as always, I welcome your feedback.  Please feel free to pass this message along to others who may find value.

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