I met Gerry in the winter of 2002. I was a day or two into my first job as a principal when he nonchalantly offered me a leadership gem that would reframe every conversation I would have about mission, vision, and later my why over the next 17 years.
Gerry was an exceptionally deep thinker, a strong leader, and a lousy caretaker. When I first met him, I was unsure of what he did. I thought maybe he was a teacher.
I opened with my common joke. “Great to meet ya, man. I’m Aubrey. Apparently, I got in the wrong line and somehow ended up as the new principal here. ”
My smile was returned ten-fold. “Awesome! I’m Gerry.”
I had no choice and asked awkwardly, “I’m sorry, Gerry, but what do you do?”
He smiled. “I help the kids learn by keeping things clean around here and making sure the kids and teachers can safely get from A to B.”