Pecan Trail’s first staff development was February 2017. We wanted it to be a true retreat: lots of time outdoors, away from town, a true opportunity to bond. We wanted a space to share about ourselves, to share about our belief in children, and to share about our beliefs and hopes for our new school. We wanted that space to be in an environment of openness to expand our thinking, nature to stir our creativity, and reclusiveness to focus on and bring us together. Our planned day of sunshine and time outdoors turned into a torrential rain storm. The monsoons of the far east had nothing on the downpour we experienced that day. Our cars were stuck in the mud and we were stuck inside with each other all day. It turned out, that is exactly what we needed.
Fast-forward to our staff development time before the start of the new year. It was HOT! Really hot. We decided to take a day and go to a roller-skating rink out of town. We thought it would be fun way to spend time as a staff. Each team dawned their own roller derby attire and we set out for Brenham. Our hope was to be in an environment where we could let down our guards, take risks, and laugh at ourselves. Our hope was that it’d be a fun way to experience our own and others’ humility and to find ways to embrace being uncomfortable. While that all did happen and resulted in some owlstanding pics during a hotly contested round of limbo, the weather again had its own impact. The air conditioner on the bus was broken. The 45 minute ride to and then back from the skating rink was hot. Not just hot, but hot, muggy and stifling. There was absolutely no air movement. We were tired, hot, and (again) stuck on a bus. But we persevered, found ways to laugh about it, and no one will ever forget the trip.
“Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.”
Shortly after that we were ready for the “Trail Through Our School” event. This would be our ‘grand opening’ to the public. Students, their families, and anyone in the community was welcome to come to Pecan Trail the last weekend in July. We wanted everyone to see our new school. We wanted students to walk the halls, check out the library, run through the gym, and tour the classrooms that would be theirs for the coming year. Hello, Hurricane Harvey! Everyone was canceling events just prior to school, but we were determined to be open. We were not sure if anyone would be able to make it due to the heavy rains, roadways covered in water, and threats of high winds. But, they showed. Teachers showed, students showed, families showed. We had a TON of people!! There was a buzz in the air and everyone could sense the excitement of the brand new building and all the potential ahead for the new year. People were wet, we had a couple of small leaks, and umbrellas were continuously turned inside out by heavy wind gusts. But the character of our PT family shown through it all. We had students helping families in and out of the building. We grabbed some mops and cleaned up a few puddles. And, everyone LOVED the school. People lingered well beyond our closing time, commenting on how beautiful PT was and how excited they were for the year to come.
While we were so excited for the first day of school, Harvey had other ideas. Schools across the area were cancelled. We were devastated. We were ready to see our Pecan Trail students and to get the year started. We were also devastated for our students. From what we had seen at the “Trail Through Our School” event, we knew they were excited for the school year to start. We also knew many of our students would be more heavily impacted by the hurricane than others. One of our teachers suggested we buy up every donut we could find and deliver them to our kids since they had to stay home that day. It. Was. Life Changing. The kids loved seeing their teachers bring donuts to their neighborhood! That donut delivery trip showed them something about their school and their teachers. They saw that their teachers just couldn’t wait one more day to get started building relationships. And, their teachers saw that the students felt loved and cared for … and how much everyone loves a good donut. Harvey wiped away the first day of school, but our PT family found a way to get started anyway.
Finally, for our first Christmas faculty party, our PTO rented out the beautiful Kyle House for us. We all looked forward to a fun evening together with good food and laughter. What we did not count on was the biggest snowfall our community had seen since the 1940’s! The snow was AMAZING. Our faculty dinner party turned into a Norman Rockwell scene.
Everyone (slowly) braved the drive through the snow and we had the most incredible backdrop to our dinner. Defying the cold and the weather’s effort to get us stuck inside, we stepped out onto the porch for a staff picture (and a few well-placed snowballs). Everyone was stunned by the event.
Time and again the weather has had its footprint on our plans. Time and again the spirit of Pecan Trail rolls with it and turns these experiences into an opportunity. I. Love. This Place. And These People. #ThisIsPT