What distance allows

Margaret Samuels, chair of the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools Board of Education, resigned today. She (along with two of the other board members) was facing a possible recall election because of her support for the Mandarin Dual Language Program—at first approving the district administration’s proposal to expand Glenwood Elementary School into a magnet school, and then, upon vigorous pushback from parents and teachers, tempering the plan to grow the program, which is based at Glenwood.

Oliver, my son, has been in the Mandarin program for the last four years. I’m proud of him and his ability to learn in two languages, happy about our decision to expose him to this style of instruction, and thankful to the school district for offering this opportunity. (The district has a long-running Spanish dual language program, too.) I hope for Samuels to find peace, our community to come to common ground, and Oliver to gain fluency.

Five years ago today, I stepped away from a position of community service and leadership during a time of pain and confusion and contentiousness. (A few days before, I’d ended the conference sobbing in the empty auditorium, a friend sitting next to me with his hand on my shoulder in consolation.) Publicly admitting my faults and failures was hard, but I was burned out, and I needed the space and time to focus on my health, my family, and my job.

It’s been a good five years. As I’m trying to convey in these daily blog posts, I’m feeling renewed, and grateful for my wife and our children and for my work and its opportunities. These years have taught me to listen more intently and attentively. When Oliver sings in Mandarin or writes with Chinese characters, I don’t understand the meanings of the language, but I do hear a world of possibility.

When I came out of my blogging and social media sabbatical, I explained how I’d been reminded to be kind to others, and “to stand up, stand tall, and stand for something good.” As I step outside each morning, I look up to the towering oak trees and I begin my day, ready.



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