July 6, 1998
Is the grass greener?
It's been almost a year since I retired from the Northshore School District. It's been a year of reflection, adjustment, grieving and loss.
Leaving an organization to which I dedicated 29 years, over half of my life, constituted a major change. Difficult? Yes. Exciting? Yes.
Having the opportunity to spend more time traveling, gardening, reading and visiting with friends and family has been a luxury. Having the opportunity to create my own consulting business has been a successful challenge that led to my working with approximately 30 other organizations this year alone.
It is from this perspective that I write this letter. It is from this perspective that I say, "Thank You Northshore School Board and Northshore community."
During my tenure with the Northshore School District, I served in many capacities, as teacher, education administrator, vice-principal, principal and director of strategic planning, grants and staff development. During my 29 years, there were many opportunities for me to trade my work in the public sector for work in the private sector where the employment opportunities, salary and "benefits," far exceeded those I received in Northshore.
So why stay with the Northshore School District? Why turn down opportunities to make more money? Why stay in the "public sector" where salaries and benefits are based upon state and local levy dollars instead of profit margins?
In order to answer that question, I was forced to examine my own values and identify what was truly important in my life.
For me, working with incredibly high quality people was important ... people who, like me, choose to make less and serve more. I am not saying there are not high quality people in the private sector. I am simply saying that the kind of people who choose to work with other people's children are a special group of folks.
The Northshore Board of Directors is another special group of people who volunteer hundreds of hours each year on all of our behalf. Yes, they are elected officials, and, yes that is expected. However, some school boards do their job better than others.
Northshore's does its extremely well. The board members are well informed on the issues of the community and the school district and continually seek ways to improve the delivery of services to the children of our community.
Another characteristic of the Northshore School District is the community it serves. We have one of the finest around. The people who live in the Kenmore, Bothell, Woodinville are quality people dedicated to education and youth.
So, is the grass greener? Sometimes it certainly looks greener .... but from a distance, one cannot usually see the weeds. Is the Northshore District perfect? No ... it is not. Is the Northshore District committed to being the best it can be? I think so. Will salaries and benefits in terms of dollars and cents ever match the "outside world?" I doubt it. Are there other types of benefits to consider? You can bet there are! People must make their own personal assessment of their life's goals and values to find the answer to the question, "stay or leave." I am glad I stayed.
Lynda Humphrey, former Northshore employee