Monday, August 25, 2014

Latham Lessons


Someone asked me today how many years have I worked at Latham. Thirty. 3 – Zero. Thirty years at this wonderful place. Some of the staff I am now training aren’t even that old.  I have witnessed enormous change in that time. I think I can recall every nook and cranny in the main house--parts of which no longer exist. I remember sitting in the upstairs porch (gone) sorting socks in the 1980’s. I remember going down the back stairs (gone) into the art classroom (gone) and out to the side porch (gone) to collect milk from a milkman (gone, too) to bring to the kitchen (remodeled).  This was before we had a school building. Before a clinical building.  Before moving the administration off-campus. Before we had a beautiful dorm. Before the idea of a “Museum Campus” was even thought about. Before we had cell phones, computers, smart boards, and yes, even before we had boys. Even before donkeys.

Sometimes I think about the kids, now adults, whose lives have touched mine. I try and remember them all and many stand out for their courage and frankly, their feistiness. Those pesky HIPAA regs prevent me from sharing details but know that Brenda, Charmaine, Anna, Debbie, Donna, Wits, Stephanie, Kathy, Donese, Lisa, Crystal, Julie, Maria, Cheryl, Allison, Sarah, Misty and so many more made their presence known and I have never forgotten them. I think they taught me much more than I taught them. I believe I became a better parent through my apprenticeship journey and still say that it was easier to get 32 Latham students up and ready for school than it was to get my own three kids out the door.

I have had the honor of working with truly wonderful staff. Staff whose dedication, generosity, guidance and professionalism helped me chart my own career course in this field.  More than a few times I have had new hires who looked somewhat familiar to me—and of course they did…I have their class photos from 2nd or 3rd grade when they were in school with my kids.  I’ve worked with their parents, occasionally even their grandparents. It is important, meaningful work and I am preparing to leave it in good hands as I finally make good on my plan to retire. Leaving Latham is really hard. And I’m not sure that Latham will really ever truly leave me. It has worked its way into my heart and soul and I am forever grateful for the opportunities and life lessons it has taught me. As I finish up this October, I hope I can tell you how much you meant to me without choking up. If my experience writing this is any indication, I will fail miserably….

Submitted by:
Chris Gallant


"You have been my friends. That in itself is a tremendous thing." 
~E.B. White - 

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