Years ago, another school principal and I were discussing the prides and perils of school administration. Talk turned, as administrator talk inevitably turns, to the subject of teachers. “You know,” she mused, “I think a big part of success in teaching is endurance. Just sticking with it.”
In teaching, yes. In work. In marriage. In raising crops, sunken ships and children. It’s not totally unlike running a marathon or other distance race. It’s the capacity to endure the stresses, the tensions, the relentlessness of the problems encountered. In pursuing an education, in building a business, in forging a career, in growing a church. In living a Christian life. The capacity to stay with a thing after the novelty and pleasure of it has dissipated. In this job, the novelty and pleasure phase may not last any longer than a snow cone at a Texas barbecue. Making endurance a very important quality in prospective employees.
That afternoon, my staff and I interviewed an applicant for a teachers’ aide position. In the course of our questioning regarding experience in working with kids, she revealed that she had been a single mother of three boys for a number of years. I asked her, “In the course of that time, those years, what is it that you are most proud of?”
Without an eyelash flicker of hesitation, our candidate responded, “I didn’t give up.”
We knew right then that we had our new teachers’ aide.