I once served on an interview committee for a job that paid substantially more than any of the candidates was currently making and carried greater responsibility and prestige. So imagine my surprise when one of the candidates told us that the real reason he wanted the job was so that he could “give something back to the community.” Really? I thought. Really?
But the truth is, giving back to the community in an authentic way is an important aspect of our jobs. How to give back? By generously supporting some of your community’s charities. By contributing to the local symphony. By showing up at the United Way breakfast for donors. By giving blood at the Legion’s blood drive. By buying whatever your students are selling. By contributing to your church if you attend one. By taking part in the Alzheimer’s walk. By showing up at the Boy Scout pancake breakfast. By buying Girl Scout cookies. By joining the serving line at the Salvation Army holiday dinner. By contributing your community college's capital campaign.
There are plenty of opportunities to give back during the holiday season, but school administrators need to make giving back a yearlong habit. Even if it’s a modest amount, your support is noted and appreciated by local residents.
The next time you attend a function at which the program lists financial supporters, check to see how many local school administrators’ names appear. How many are listed as donors in various local agencies’ annual reports? People read these things, and while they may not notice if your name is absent, they certainly notice if it’s present.
Some administrators feel that they don’t need to contribute to local initiatives because they work long hours in service of the community’s youth. Yes, we do work long hours for kids. But we are paid for it, and paid well, and it’s something we’ve chosen to do. Being known as a good administrator earns the respect of your community. Being named as a generous financial supporter of community initiatives earns approval as well.