One of my favorite children’s books is Shel Silverstein’s, “The Giving Tree.” The story begins… “Once there was a tree… and she loved a little boy.” Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, and slide down the trunk. The boy grows older, and the visits to the tree are less frequent. One day the boy returns, now a man. His is no longer interested in play, but is seeking what the tree can provide so he might support his family. The tree gives the man (boy) all she has to give, including her fruit, branches and her trunk. As the story continues, the boy, now an old man, returns to the place where the tree once stood. He no longer is seeking to play, asking for guidance, or material items. The old man (boy) has come to reflect and be grateful for everything the tree provided that shapes his life.
This time of year I always think of “The Giving Tree.” The parable speaks to the gift of giving and the capacity to love and care for others. Each day in the Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools, I have the opportunity to watch so many grownups and students caring for and giving so much to each other. It reminds me of how special it is to live and work in KCK, a city that is a true community. To say how grateful I am to our students, staff, and community really seems to fall short. So if I share with you that KCKPS is like the gift of “The Giving Tree,” maybe that more aptly describes how I feel. “It’s Up to Us.”