Quintin Shepherd

Quintin Shepherd

Many years ago, when I was still a music teacher, I oversaw the process of putting together the annual Christmas/Holiday Concert at the elementary, middle, and high school levels (it was a small district). We performed many of the traditional holiday songs, some non-traditional songs, and sometimes we added skits as well. Although most of the songs would change from year to year, I always had my students perform “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of the concert.

As a music teacher, I would teach more than just singing, of course. Over the course of several weeks with my students as we learned the music, I would reflect with them what the lyrics mean to me and ask what the lyrics meant to them (it was my way of reinforcing reading strategies like “text-to-self connection” or metacognition). It was always interesting to me how sometimes a 6-year-old can be deeply philosophical in their response, and sometimes an 18- year-old is not. Regardless, the song is one of my favorites not just for the melody, but also the meaning in the lyrics.

This year, as I ponder the phrase, “Should old acquaintance be forgot?” The images and faces of many people (too many to name here) immediately come to mind. Twenty years from now when I think back on this year, I will remember the kind messages people have sent when things were getting difficult.

I will remember some of the leaders of our religious community who came together as some of our “first responders” at the onset of the pandemic and we were in the early stages of planning.

I will remember all my teammates who stepped up to help shoulder this burden and lighten the load whenever and wherever possible.

I will remember a principal who dropped by with a breakfast taco and brought me to tears with laughter during our conversation.

I will remember trustees who reminded me to take care of myself so I could take care of others.

Several teachers and support staff have made an indelible imprint on my heart with their selfless acts of compassion.

Community leaders who made a point of reaching out to offer support.

There is a face of a neighbor who came upon Sarah and I during a walk in the middle of summer with a genuine look of care in her eye and asking how we were doing.

And a very good friend who reminded me to take an occasional lunch break and reinforced that it’s OK to be human.

I challenge you to flash-forward so you can have a flash-back (it’s a great leadership exercise). Flash-forward a few years from now so you can think back on this year of the pandemic. Who helped you solve problems, who stood by you, who was there when you needed them, and who will you not forget? I encourage you to let them know and spread some much-needed joy. We need it more this year than ever before, I think.

I have many people to be grateful for and who will never be forgotten, and I figure if you bother to read the things I write, there is a good chance I count you amongst this group. Be safe and be well this holiday season.

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Quintin Shepherd is the superintendent of the Victoria Independent School District.

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