by Lee Roland
“Dependability is more important than talent. Dependability is a talent, and it is a talent all can have. It makes no difference how much ability we possess if we are not responsible and dependable.”
Floy L. Bennett
After high school, I went on to college. From there, I became a teacher and, shortly afterward, an elementary school principal, which is where I spent almost 25 years. I am currently a Director of Principal Development at Epic Charter Schools in Oklahoma. Throughout all of my years, dependability was always a necessity to me both as a student and an administrator.
During my childhood and postsecondary education, my most memorable and favorite teachers were the ones I could depend on to show up and aid me selflessly when needed. I know this sounds like something many people perhaps took for granted, but that was not the case for me. As an African American, growing up in the late 1960s and ‘70s, I was very frequently a different skin color than my teachers and administrators. I often feared whether I could depend on the people in charge to respond to me with consistent service and fairness. Unfortunately, which I won’t mention in this article, my fears were too often realized. Fortunately, however, I have used the sad memories of my early life to want better and different for the students who would later come under my care.
As Principal, I realized far too many of my students had experienced abandonment, especially from fathers or men who had, for various reasons, been in and out of their lives. Therefore, one of the things I prided myself in doing was to be dependable in showing up early every day for them. I wanted all of the students to see my green Ford Mustang in the Principal’s parking spot whenever they arrived. I was intentional in endeavoring for my beloved students to see me like a proverbial “Old Faithful,” showing up no matter the circumstances.
Moreover, I wanted and expected my staff to be dependable for the same reasons mentioned above. As a staff, we first made it a goal to hire teachers that expressed intentions of serving at our school for at least three years. Next, we made it very clear that every teacher was expected to demonstrate a consistent attitude of love and care for every student. We knew that dependable charity would reap a tremendous harvest for our school. I am proud to say that the harvest exceeded our expectations. Our students, no matter their gender, ability, or color, thrived academically and socially as they knew they could depend on every adult in our school.
In closing, I think that the character trait of dependability is something that almost all of us want or expect from other people. However, I submit that we should first hold ourselves accountable to be dependable, a talent we should all possess.