It's All About Family


I believe schools operate best when they operate like a family. I believe the school district ought to also operate as a family. There should never be an "Us vs. Them" mentality that thrives within a school district.

It’s All about Family:

I grew up in what I would consider a big family—five kids. My mom had four kids in her family when she grew up, and my dad had seven kids in his family when he grew up out on a farm in Ohio. My own immediate family of three kids sometimes seems a bit small to me…at times I wish my wife and I had five, seven, or even ten kids in our family. My wife assures me that I wouldn’t have those feelings if I were the one carrying the babies—and she’s probably right… we wouldn’t have any…☺

I often think about adopting more kids; it just seems like there are so many kids that need to feel loved, cared for, and given a safe, happy environment during their tender years of childhood. Another thought invades my mind at times—I have one of the biggest families of all, right in front of me, if I mentally adopt the kids at my school—and take care of them as if they were my own—taking interest in them, encouraging them, and protecting them. Simply stated, “Providing, guiding, and chiding them as if they were my very own.”

When someone is Family:

Something changes when someone is family. You bend over backwards in times of need when it’s family. You make sacrifices, you go the extra mile, you find a way, and you do whatever it takes when it’s family. Is it possible for a school community to operate like a family? Is it possible to truly live up to the Latin phrase “in loco parentis”—in place of a parent? The ancient Sumerians thought so…they got into the spirit of family by referring to their professors as “school-fathers”, and their students as “school-sons”. (They had much room to grow in the area of educating their daughters.) Many may think, “There are just too many kids and adults involved here to try to care about everyone like they are family—you physically can’t give everyone lunch money. It reminds me of a time when I was an assistant principal at Apopka High School, and a student came up to me in the lunchroom and asked me for a couple of dollars for lunch. I happened to have a couple bucks on me, so I handed them over and said something like, “It’s your lucky day…I usually don’t have much money on me.” The student replied, “Mr. Swift will pay you back tomorrow, he’s not here today, and he usually gives me lunch money when I need it.” I got a chuckle out of that one. I think Mr. Swift enjoyed helping kids out and treating them like family—that might be why I miss having him around here so much. My own dad is presently up in the grandstands of heaven watching the game down here, but mentally, I still have a lot of people around me that I look to in the way I looked to my dad—Mr. Swift was one of them. (Time to move on before I get emotional.) Look for people around you that you can adopt and make a difference in their lives, or your life—it might be a student, it might be a younger teacher, or it might be an older staff member. You don’t have to tell the person you are adopting them…you just need to live it—many times we get caught up in the emotions of announcing something like this, and we fail to have the same passion when it comes to the doing. Also, many students or adults may not need the extra support, but you will probably find a handful where you will be the closest thing to a real family member that they have ever had. It’s all about family…and it’s all about perspective.


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Political advertisement paid for and approved by Matthew J. Fitzpatrick, Non-Partisan, for Orange County School Board Chair

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