Oct 23, 2008

Life Lessons

My sister and I chose very different career paths. I entered the business world and she became a teacher. Over the years we have rejoiced in each other’s successes but I’m sure, just like me, she would shake her head occasionally and think “She just doesn’t understand what I do.”

I am very proud of my sister. She has taught school in poor, rough neighborhoods throughout her entire career. She has had to deal with parents that were often ungrateful and sometimes even a little scary and threatening. She has had to deal with an increasingly ungrateful community that was led to believe by Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” that it is the teacher’s fault if their kid is not doing well.

She suffered through all this because she put the kids first. She has taught kindergarteners how to brush their teeth (and given them toothbrushes). She has visited the homes of her students to offer her help to their families. These visits were in neighborhoods so impoverished and dangerous that most people wouldn’t drive through them, let alone leave their cars. She has spent huge amounts of her own money on school supplies and mittens, coats and gloves for these kids.

What did my sister get for her years of devotion and hard work. She got laid off. The students in her district slowly moved away from the public school system to charter schools. These charter schools are funded by tax dollars. Their parents believed that attending a school with the word “Academy” in the name and wearing a uniform were the key components missing from their child’s education. Never mind that most of these parents couldn’t be bothered to come to conferences, to help their kids with homework or to respond to phone calls and messages from my sister.

After losing her job my sister got the opportunity to take a Human Resources position. That is my chosen profession. We have discovered that our jobs aren't really that different after all.

Do you remember the book “All I Ever Really Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten”? It’s true. The employees that cause the most grief for HR professionals are the ones that didn’t learn those lessons. My sister is uniquely qualified to be in HR. She can help those wayward employees learn the lessons that she has been teaching kids for 20 years.

* Share and Help Others
* Don’t Tattle Tale
* Be a Team Player
* Don’t Hit
* Don’t Call People Names
* Don’t Lie or Cheat
* Respect People and Their Property
* Do Your Best

What she did best though was to inspire her students. She taught them to have confidence in themselves and to not be afraid. That is something we in HR could do a little better job at.

Now we have lots to talk about, my sister and I.


  1. Your sister is hero!
    Funny how it worked out,the two of you working in the same field after all this time.
    I lerned everything I know in kidergarten and,you knoww,from comic books.

  2. Yes, she is a hero - but watch her in a fight cuz she'll pull your hair and scratch, I know first hand.