Friday, June 2, 2017


Yesterday was the last official day of the Academic Year for faculty members at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. As part of the daily activities, the Humanities Department had our final meeting of the school year. Rather than a formal agenda for the meeting, we were simply given a forum to express our gratitude for each other and for events that had occurred during the course of the year. This was an incredible exercise for me and I believe for many of my colleagues on the last day of school. We heard stories of gratitude for colleagues, for help during times of ill-health and family crisis, for curricular inspiration, for facilitation of professional in-service and ideas, for lovely unexpected gestures, and many others. 

How rare for a group of colleagues to have an hour to simply sit in a circle and thank each other!  I am so appreciative for that opportunity and for the opportunity to hear the thoughts of gratitude expressed by my friends and colleagues.  It was a beautiful way to end the school year.

So, in this post, I would like to express gratitude for a number of opportunities that have come to me throughout the course of the past year.

First, I am thankful for my family.  My wife is so supportive and literally adjusts so many facets of her life to accommodate my busy work and performing schedule.  She understands my priorities and challenges.  I couldn't do it without her and I truly appreciate her guidance and support in my life.  I am also thankful for my kids.  I have three sons who make me proud on a daily basis.  They are growing to be fine human beings, exhibiting compassion, work ethic and sensitivity on a daily basis.  We live in a harsh world and I know my boys will be part of the solution, not part of the problem.  I feel so fortunate to have a role in their lives.

I am thankful for the many conducting opportunities that have come my way this year.  I am so privileged to work with students all over the US and appreciate the opportunity to have a small part in shaping the musical understanding and passion of so many kids.  It is such a joy for me to travel and experience the excitement of orchestra events over and over.  I always knew that I wanted to do this and I am truly living my dreams.  If you had a part in providing me one of these opportunities, thanks!

Similarly, I am thankful for speaking and conference presentation opportunities.  These presentations keep me on my toes and fresh.  They give me the opportunity to articulate my pedagogical thoughts to other teachers and to gain constant feedback on my ideas.  In return, I gain motivation from their enthusiasm for my material.  Truly, I appreciate the opportunity to share my ideas with colleagues.

I am thankful for colleagues.  My colleagues at NCSSM support and inspire  me every day. We collaborate, discuss, share, laugh, and commiserate.  I couldn't ask for a better daily environment. 
My colleagues around North Carolina are an inspiration as well.  I look forward to our regional and all-state events, not only for the opportunities my students receive, but also to hang out with my friends!  We share laughter and common situations.  The string ed community in NC is strong and welcoming.  And, I am thankful for colleagues around the country.  It is so great to watch your accomplishments and lives via Facebook and other digital media.  And, of course, I love seeing you, hanging out, sharing meals, and touching base at conferences and other events throughout the year.  This community isn't that big and I am always reminded that this is our "tribe."   It is wonderful to be in this together.

I am thankful for NCSSM.  This institution has been so wonderful to me over the years.  The school's mission is a perfect fit for me.  The administration appreciates my talents and does all that they can to allow me to thrive and be my best at every turn. And, when I need a little latitude, they always provide me with what I need.

I am thankful for smiles from students.  There is no greater feeling than making eye contact with a student while conducting a piece and receiving that smile that says, "Thanks, Mr. Laird. This is awesome."  Similarly, it is great to just get that smile in the hallway or during a break in rehearsal.  Again, the community of string players and orchestral musicians is small.  It is so nice to be connected with young people by such a cool and meaningful pursuit.

I am thankful for the love and support that I have received from so many people in the past year.  It is truly awesome to have folks that care for us.  That has definitely been palpable in my life in recent months.  Thanks.

I am sure there is much more:  health, happiness, recreation, engagement, good fortune, and others.  I am certainly grateful today.  

Thanks to you for taking the time to read this.  Peace.


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