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Classroom reflections

March 09, 2009|By CLAUD KITCHENS

Sam was a new elementary school principal in our district. Several of us on the administrative staff doubted that he would be accepted in the upscale community where he had been assigned. Sam was, kindly speaking, different. Had it not been for his superb references, he would not have been employed.

He wore cowboy boots, a cowboy hat and a Western string tie. Some of us worried that one day he would arrive at school on a horse.

On the plus side, he had an outgoing personality, and seemed to care very much for children. Shortly after Sam took office, many of our reservations began to fade.

One incident in particular removed many of our concerns. A group of children were playing kickball just outside his office. One of the larger boys kicked the ball on top of the one-story flat-roofed building.

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Sam quickly found his way to the roof. In full cowboy regalia, he walked to the edge of the roof and threw the ball down to them. As Sam stood there, the children began to clap. He had been accepted by the students. We knew it would not be long before the parents rallied around him.

Had Willie Nelson known Sam, he never would have sung, "Mama, don't get your babies grow up to be cowboys."

Claud Kitchens, who passed away recently, was an educator for more than 35 years, retiring in 1990 as the deputy state superintendent of the Maryland State Department of Education. Prior to that, he was the superintendent of Washington County Public Schools.

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