It’s not sunny here today. It’s not sunny here at all. In fact it was grey, cold, and gloomy this morning when I woke up and dragged myself out of bed. The dreary coldness of the day was amplified by the fact that it was a Monday, and Mondays are hard sometimes. But we do what we do, I got up, got to school, moved through the day, and it was a good day. An ordinary day.

I went to swim practice this afternoon to coach, and we had had last week off as a transition from the short course to the long course season, and oh my, was there excitement in the air. It was less like we had been away from each other for a week, and more like it had been six months, the way the kids on the team were acting. They were overjoyed to see each other, to meet the new members of the team, and to see the coaches again. It was a magical moment. I am so happy to be right here, I thought. They splashed into the pool, and we started swimming and I gave them a set that produced some groaning complaints.

This is a normal and fair reaction to swim practice at times (I have certainly had this reaction myself), but I have found this year that many of my swimmers are all too quick to say “I can’t do this” and resolve themselves to a mindset that encourages negativity. Just as we encourage a growth mindset and positive attitude in school, this is the kind of environment I want my swimmers to be creating for themselves in the pool everyday. And I said something along the lines of this, a little reminder about positivity, and one of my swimmers said, “You’re like the sun Leah.” And I gave him a surprised look and he said, “What! You are. Everyone smiles when you walk in.” And I was speechless.

As an apprentice teacher and graduate student this year, I am embarking on a new journey. I am not new to the world of education, but this has been my first foray into full-time teaching and it has had its challenges. I have grappled with a lot of self-doubt this year, a lot of questions, a lot of deep inward looking at myself, and a lot of deep outward looking at the world. I have wondered if I am really in the right place, doing the right thing.

NO YOU ARE THE SUN! I wanted to say to him. YOU JUST MADE MY DAY. 

Because he did. And he is a ray of sunshine, frequently at swim practice, and was today, a powerful reminder, that yes I really am in the right place. This is the thing I should be doing. So this post, on a dreary late March day, is for all of those students and athletes and kids of ours that are rays of sunshine and remind us why we do what we do everyday.




  1. There are many wonderful quotes about light and the sun, but a favorite of mine is “”If everyone lit just one little candle what a bright world this would be.” It seems that both you and that swimmer are lighting the candles and making those hard practices brighter and doable. I hope you print this out and keep it somewhere when some dark day appears again, and it will. This is important to remember!

  2. You are right where you need to be!! Such a wonderful thing for him to say. I’m so glad he recognized your positive energy and told you. 😄 Warm fuzzies all around!

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