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From the Principal’s Pen ~ October 2019

Submitted by: Jennifer McGee, Principal of Atwood Primary

At the beginning of each school year, I try to introduce some new thinking to ignite the staff.  This year, we read an article from The Cult of Pedagogy about “Finding Your Marigold”.

The basic point of this article, written by Jennifer Gonzalez, is simple. Surround yourself with good people.

Experienced gardeners know that marigolds help the plants around them grow and thrive.

As humans, it is equally important to “find the marigolds” in our lives.  Who are the people you surround yourself with that help you thrive and grow in your own life?  Those people are your marigolds.

It’s easy to spot the marigolds in your workplace. They are the people, who, when you bump into them, give you energy.  These are the people you naturally move toward…not away from.   They are the people you seek when you need advice.  They are honest but not judgmental. They are kind and complimentary….they smile, they laugh, they find the sunshine. They are the marigolds.

On the other hand….there are walnut trees. The walnut trees are toxic to the plants around them.  Those are the people who enter the room, and drain the room of energy and drain those around them of their confidence, their worthiness, and their spirit.   They use sarcasm, they talk about people, they find the negative in any situation and keep bringing it forward.  Walnut trees.  We all know one.

As a school, it is essential that we all be marigolds for your children.  Our purpose is to grow your children and their skills.  We exist for that very purpose.  We are always trying to balance that fine line of being able to push your children into the productive struggle of growing their skills…and still having them feel joyful and confident as they learn.

I always try to be a marigold as a Mom.  But I can think of plenty of times when I was a walnut tree.   Those are the moments that are easy to recall.  Those are the times when we are overly critical.  We use sarcasm.  We are snarky when we could just take a minute before we answer.  I remember once when my daughter was learning to drive.

She was nervous.  Honestly, I was nervous too.  So every comment out of my mouth was criticism.  “You are too close to the curb.”  “That’s too fast.”  “You are making me nervous.” “Slow down.”  After a few minutes, she pulled over into a parking lot and refused to drive with me.   She was already nervous, and I just made it worse.  She needed a marigold, and she got a walnut tree.

Your children are pretty amazing.  We had a town meeting on Monday here at Atwood. It was our first one, and all of the children were gathered in the gym. I simply rang three chimes and all 247 of them quieted right down.  They listened, and they watched, and they tried very hard to do the right things.

Mrs. Blaisdell led all of the children in four dances, and I marveled at how hard they were trying to follow her.  They all wanted to learn the dances. They wanted to move like Mrs. Blaisdell was moving. It made me think about their magical ages and how ready they are to “follow” our leads….how important it is to surround them with marigolds.

What can you do to make sure your child is in a field of marigolds?  Help them find friends who are kind, who hold them up instead of bringing them down.  Surround your children with positive friends and relatives in your life.  Make sure the people you spend time with are marigolds and not walnut trees.  Remember, you need marigolds too!

Recently, I had the opportunity to attend the Cancer Survivor’s Day in Augusta at the Alfond Cancer Center. The first speaker talked about her journey fighting cancer. She talked about the gloom and fog that would roll in during her darker days of the journey.  But then she talked about the people in her world that would help her find the “sunshine” even in the darkest times.  They were the ones who arrived with a casserole or the ones who sent her a text “you got this”, or the ones who would show up wearing a wig, or simply who sat next to her and listened. Those people were the marigolds.

Remember, if you are a marigold in this world, you will most likely raise a marigold.  Make sure your children know when you are bringing a meal to an elderly neighbor, or walking a dog for a sick friend, or tell them when you are simply popping a card into the mail for a friend you are encouraging.  Monkey see monkey do.  And when your children come home complaining about “that child” in class, remind your children that maybe that friend is struggling…maybe that child has not been around many marigolds in their short life.

So, as the days become shorter and shorter and the weather becomes more brisk…one way to keep sunshine in your life all fall and winter…is to plant marigolds.


Educationally Yours,

Jennifer McGee, Principal of the Atwood Primary School



Wednesday, October 2 from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m.:  Author Cathryn Falwell will be presenting in the Atwood Primary School Gymnasium! Don’t miss this special event with your child!

Thursday, October 10 at 12:45:  Walk Against Cancer  Join us in the Atwood Gym at 12:45 and then for a parade at 1:00….Bring a donation, carry a sign for a loved one, wear your Atwood Awesome t-shirt!!!  #nevertooyoungtobeahero

No School:

Friday, October 11: Teacher Comp Day

Monday, October 14:  Columbus Day

Coming Events at Atwood Primary