Quintin Shepherd

Quintin Shepherd

Two weeks ago, my oldest daughter verbally committed to a university and eagerly anticipates becoming a collegiate swimmer and scholar. We are super excited for this next stage in her life.

As with many big events in our life, we often take a step back to reflect. I have been reflecting on what advice I wish someone would have shared with me that might have been useful as I was heading off to college.

After a few weeks thinking, I have a couple of answers and one I will share here.

When I thought about heading off to college, I spent an inordinate amount of time planning (in my head) for the day I would move in, or the day I would start classes.

Moving day loomed large in my mind and I would say that occupied something like 75% of my thinking. The other 25% was focused on where I would find food. I planned well for the event that was moving in.

I did this same thing after I proposed marriage. My mind was occupied at like 90% thinking about the wedding. Who would be there, what would we eat, was I ready to dance, pictures, what I was going to do the morning of the big wedding day, etc.? It was an insane amount of planning for the event. Now my wife would tell you I planned something less than 2% of the overall event, but that 2% took up like 90% of my thinking.

I did it again preparing for the birth of my oldest. Lots and lots of time preparing for the event. And then, maturity finally started to set in, and a voice of insight and wisdom helped me to understand there is a difference in planning for the event and planning for the lifestyle.

Planning to move into college is not so important. Planning for the lifestyle that is being a college student is particularly important.

Marriage is the same way; I could have used the planning time more effectively by focusing less on the event and more on the lifestyle. Parenting checks that same box. Less time planning for the birth, more time planning for the lifestyle that is being a parent.

Am I just offering up my insight for those thinking about life after graduation, you might be wondering? The answer is no. A lifetime of experience has taught me planning for the event is the lesser important, but often easier part when compared to planning for the lifestyle.

A very real example in front of all of us is what happens when a vaccine is ready for distribution. It seems a lot of people I speak with are planning for the event, but not a lot are thinking about the lifestyle that will be with us for the next two or three years. We know the world of business will not just flip a switch and go back to normal, it will take weeks, months, and in some cases, years to get back to the vibrancy we experienced pre-COVID-19.

We know that education will never “go back to normal,” but what does the new lifestyle look like? We know many of our students have a tremendous amount of unfinished learning and we have a lot of work in front of us to make sure we get our kids back on track.

How will we make lifestyle changes to ensure this happens?

Collectively, we must have the prospicience to ask ourselves this question about the future and then be ready for the lifestyle that follows. I look forward to reaching out into our community of educator experts to get their ideas in the coming weeks and look forward to your thoughts as well.

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

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