Monday, November 29, 2021

Celebrating The Man I Call A Friend

More Straight Talk

During your lifetime, you will hopefully meet individuals who make a sincere impression on you and how you would want to be remembered when you move on. In my life I have been fortunate to have met a number of them, both men and women whom I have come to have great respect and admiration for—so I feel very blessed.

The individual I speak about today has shown me what genuine love for one’s profession can mean. The discovery of that allows one to dedicate oneself to that endeavor, while bringing with it great personal satisfaction. 

This person I speak about has affected the lives of thousands of young people because of the path he has chosen. He chose that pathway not because it would be easy, but instead for the impact it would have on the children in his care and in their character.

There are those that would scoff at my sentiments, saying they are to old fashion, or a little too corny. I would ask those that would find fault with those reflections to explain to me why they would want someone without these traits to be involved in the molding of their greatest possession, their children?

George Abounader will be letting go of those responsibilities on June 30th of this year as he steps back from his role as the Principal and CEO of the Marco Island Charter Middle School. He has held that position for over 20 years of the school’s existence. This will bring a close to a 46-year career as an educator and administrator. 

I have come to know George as both a professional, an individual, and a friend during his 20 years here within the community. He has been a pleasure to work with, primarily due to his commitment and love for the children that have been entrusted to him each year.

There are times that he does “wear his heart on his sleeve,” especially as he hands off his 8th graders to their next step in their educational journey as they move onto high school. This year will be especially hard on George for there will be no big graduation ceremony, no junior high social or any other celebration of their accomplishments. That sadness is being felt not only by Abounader, but by the students, their parents, and grandparents all over this nation.

I have also been present as he welcomes his newest 6th graders on the evening of their orientation with their parents. He will reach out to help a confused youngster to find their first-period classroom on that initial day of school. 

George also has shown great loyalty to those he holds dear, such as the Miami Dolphins over the years. A committed fan, no matter how formable the competition or dire the consequences, he has always been a consummate fan of the Dolphins. You will find collectibles in his office, as well as well-worn Dolphin stickers on his truck windows 

I have had the privilege of working with George over these last 15 years as Christmas Island Style has been proud to assist him to help families in need; when that need was made known to us by his office. 

As the annual Christmas Parade would round the corner of Balfour Drive and onto San Marco Road, there would be Band Director Martie Miller, followed by Principal Abounader with a big smile on his face about mid-way of the 200 plus marching band, giving them a word of encouragement and keeping them inline for the one mile march to the judging stands. 

His commitment to the school and the safety of the children can be seen every day as George rushes out to the curbside of the school’s front doors. Here he would usher the children safely onto their buses for the trip home. I was surprised the first time I witnessed this devotion to these small fragile charges which were his responsibility, but it reinforced my measure of the man I had come to call my friend.

It is a shame that in many of the annual reports that we read the concentration of comments focus on bricks and mortar, capital spending and revenues and profits realized during the year. I understand all those items are important. However, we should be concentrating on the qualities of the individuals who administer and teach within our institutions.

The qualities of men such as George Abounader, who has consistently, in coordination with his staff and faculty created one of the top-performing Charter Middle Schools within the State of Florida with the distinction of being named an A+ School and designated a High Performing Charter School in the State of Florida.

Effective administrators should not only have high expectations for their staff but should also be prepared to assist those faculty and staff members to rise up and meet those high expectations.

I have always believed that George Abounader was a man that possessed the skills to motivate those around him, not by fear, but instead through a process of inspiring them to leverage their own strengths and become confident in themselves to be able to make a difference.

Thank you, George, for the great educational foundations you have laid for these youngsters and for those educators who will pass on your wonderful gifts to generations to come.

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