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Feature                                                    Page 38-39

 
When Mom or Dad is

the Superintendent    

EDITOR’S NOTE: Superintendents whose young children attend public schools in their school district face a special challenge. How do you go about ensuring your children are treated like other students, neither advantaged nor disadvantaged by their unique connection to the chief executive of the school system?

To gain insight, we invited several college-age sons and daughters who attended K-12 schools where their parents worked as the superintendent to share something about their experience. We also solicited comments from a superintendent who was mother to a pair of high schoolers and from two superintendents who grew up with fathers who were superintendents during their school days.

Teachers’ Pet? Not My Reality

BY SHANNON R. LOCKWOOD

Lockwood
Shannon Lockwood, now a college sophomore, and superintendent father Darrell

Growing up in Goffstown, N.H. (population 18,000), where my dad, Darrell Lockwood, was the superintendent for 10 years, my sister Alyssa and I were referred to by most people in the community as “the Lockwood girls.” Everywhere we went, people knew who we were — other students, coaches, administrators and, of course, all of our teachers.

Students and parents figured, as the superintendent’s daughter, I got special privileges, including better grades, starting positions on school sports teams and status as the “teacher’s pet.”

That was definitely not my reality. Most of my teachers probably were horrified when they saw their class roster in September and it had the name Lockwood on it. I always felt as if I had to work that much harder, not only because teachers expected it, but also because they did not want to be accused by other parents of showing favoritism to be in my dad’s good graces.

For most of my high school years, I was a three-season athlete, and with each tryout I had to prove I was more than just the name on the back of my jersey. It was both a blessing and a curse. I pushed myself harder than any of the other girls on my teams, but ultimately, it made me a better athlete. When I was on the court or the playing field, I made sure no one would question that I had earned my right to be there. When I decided as a freshman to play field hockey for the first time, I pushed myself as hard as I could not only to learn the game, but to excel as a player. Many tongues wagged when my coach moved me up to the varsity team after the fifth game of the season.

People watched me with scrutinizing eyes, always waiting for the moment a “Lockwood girl” would stumble. Other students would try to get me in trouble or set me up to fail. It was hard at times to find close friends because kids were either intimidated by my name or wanted to be my friend just because of my name. Looking back at those moments, I found personal meaning in a quotation (source unknown) given to me by one of my college field hockey teammates after I suffered a serious, season-ending eye injury: “When we long for life without difficulties, remind us that oaks grow strong in contrary winds and diamonds are made under pressure.” At times, living in the shadow of a revered and influential community leader was stressful. I shed many tears growing up, wanting my life to be easy, to be “normal.”

READ MORE ACCOUNTS:

Sandy Doebert

Tom Schneider

Eric and Philip Chrostoski

Brian Talbott

I remember the disappointment on my friends’ faces over the years because their parents couldn’t attend special events during the school day. I felt blessed because I knew when I looked up, my dad, the superintendent, would be there. He didn’t miss a spelling bee, an academic awards ceremony, a pep rally or a Parents Day luncheon. He was a “hit” as a guest speaker in my social studies class when he shared his cultural experiences in Argentina. When I was in 7th grade, he ran the Turkey Trot, a local fundraiser on Thanksgiving, with me, and I was never so proud as when we crossed the finish line together. I can count on one hand the number of field hockey and basketball games and track meets he missed over my many years of play. He was always there to support my sister and me.

Living up to the expectations of being the daughter of the superintendent in a small town made me into the young woman I am today. There were times when he had to let me fall, but I also knew he would be there to pick me up when I reached out my hand to him. I’ve learned how to face life’s challenges. I have a drive and determination that I learned in defining who I was — not just “one of the Lockwood girls.”

Shannon Lockwood is a sophomore nursing major at Endicott College in Beverly, Mass. E-mail: shanrlockwood@gmail.com

 

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