Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Service Above Self

While our country, and yours truly, has been immersed in the Cinderella stories of March Madness – in fact, it might be on in the background as I write, as if pulling my thoughts together at the monthly deadline wasn’t hard enough – two major league baseball players signed contract extensions totaling over $450 million. That’s right, just two.  Now don’t get me wrong, I understand these gentlemen are quite skilled at their craft and millions of us will spend our hard-earned money to see athletes such as them perform. However,  I can’t help but wonder which areas of our country could use that $450 million, or just a portion of it, and some may be more deserving than others.
This is where it gets personal.  About a month ago, I received a phone call that many of you may have experienced and most of us dread.  I heard from my wife that my parents were in an auto accident, with my 3-year-old son in the car.    She quickly informed me that Cortland was OK (actually, he was really excited to have the police, ambulance and fire crews with him) and my parents were OK, too; banged up, but in the BIG picture OK.
In the hours, and subsequent days that I spent in the hospital, I was reminded of the true heroes in our world; not the modern-day gladiators of the sports industry, but those who have dedicated their life to service: from the emergency responders, the trauma staff, the nurses (like my mother) and the doctors who provided genuine care not only to my family but to all who found themselves in the hospital. While their purpose is beyond their paycheck, perhaps some of the $450 million could be sent their way.
Of course, this line of thought then extends to the servicewomen and servicemen who spend, or spent, months, even years, of their lives away from their families (like my father) so we can live freely with ours.  Those individuals, and the collective military branches consisting of each, are the real-life heroes, not the professional or amateur athletes who make the circus catch, or game-winning shots (that the kid from Kentucky just hit). While these individuals will not see a dime of the aforesaid salaries, I am proud AGC takes a moment each day to pledge our allegiance to them, even if it is only a small token.
Finally, as we are in the midst of the PSSA’s marathon, I would be remiss if I did not mention my pride in the students and staff of Andrew G. Curtin. During our first week of testing, our students have put forth a tremendous effort to do their best (which is all we can ask). Our staff, meaning EVERYONE, has stepped up to serve our children and create an environment in which EACH child is valued as our own.  The testing will cease in a few weeks, but our commitment to the spirit of service will exist for decades, which is why it is enshrined on our auditorium wall.   Our performance on high-stakes testing may one day impact our compensation; one cannot put a price tag on the payback from seeing our students believe they can do or be anything. Onward AGC!
To those who serve, and your families,  I simply would like to say thank you on behalf of the Andrew G. Curtin Community. You may never receive the home-run salary, but your impact on our society is nothing less than a grand slam.
With gratitude,
Mr. Michaels

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