Slipping Through My Fingers

As I walked him into the school that morning, I began preparing myself for what we were about to experience. I didn't know what to expect as I anxiously walked with him, one step at a time, holding his tiny hand in mine. He had his lunch box and backpack, wearing the cutest blue jean overalls and stylish Converse sneakers. Smiling from ear to ear, he was ready for his big day. You see, it was his first day of preschool. Being the well-prepared parent that I was, I knew that sometimes children resist this new beginning with heavy tears and struggle to allow parents to leave them. So when we got to the door of his room, I held my breath in anticipation. Jacob, at three years old, walked into the room, never once looked back at me, and began playing with his new friends. As I witnessed the other children crying, screaming, holding onto their parents, and begging them not to leave, I paused to realize that although I had apparently done exactly what I needed to do as a parent to prepare my child to be confident and stand on his own that day, I found myself feeling surprisingly sad, empty, and short of breath. I realized it was the end of an era. Things would be different from that moment. I stood there, tears streaming down my face, alone at the doorway holding on to the moment as I let him go.

Since that day, there have been many firsts: first day of Kindergarten, first field trip, first football game, elementary graduation, first day of junior high school, and first day of high school. I have felt a tremendous amount of joy seeing him grow to become an adolescent, teenager, and now a senior at Keller High School. I have made every attempt to stay connected to his every adventure by volunteering at his school as PTA mom, room mom, and team mom; and by creating and implementing a school program for students. I also stayed involved as a parent on the district level by conducting a meaningful engagement analysis, and served as KISD Education Foundation Director. Last year, as the Marketing Director at VLK, I had an extraordinary experience that I will never forget.

VLK Architects was awarded the Keller High School additions and renovations project. This project included many aspects: gaining a recognizable front entrance, widening the hallways, new collaborative classrooms, a band hall addition, and opening the commons areas which included the introduction of natural light into the spaces. VLK appreciates that everyone in their community is connected to the school district in some way. Therefore, we approach each project uniquely in order to truly listen to the particular needs of each and every client because each facility is representative of the community it serves. This project was particularly exciting for me because it would impact not only my children but also their friends, and many more generations to come. An important aspect of this design transformation was sustaining the great heritage known as Keller High. I was fortunate to lead VLK's Comprehensive Branding Initiative that brought together teachers, community members, parents, and students who were tasked with branding Keller High. Through this process, we identified and researched the artwork which was located throughout the campus in order to not only document it, but also decide what was to be preserved. Meaningful symbols such as the KHS crest, water tower, Indian head, spear, and the big 'K' were identified, as well as the important slogans such as 'Fear the Spear' and 'A Tradition of Excellence,' so that they could be communicated throughout the design. In the end, we were able to provide a comprehensive branding report that the designers used to ultimately ensure that we were respecting tradition and sustaining the heritage known as Keller High.

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I saw this experience as one of my last opportunities to pay tribute to the school district that had assisted me in shaping my son into the man he has become. The school district- from board members, to administrators, to teachers-was my parenting partner throughout his journey that has delivered him to this point. Having the opportunity to not only pay back but also assist in ensuring the spirit of such a great school was captured in the new design was an experience I will always cherish. It is particularly special because my son was able to participate in it with me. My career, family, and community merged for a moment because of this project and I never dreamed of the impact that it would have on all three areas. For these memories and experiences, I am forever thankful. A few weeks ago, I was able to walk the halls of the newly transformed Keller High School and felt the rejuvenation and enthusiasm that now exudes throughout the school. I am truly humbled to have been given the opportunity to contribute.

Recently, I received the proofs of my son in his graduation cap and gown. I have to admit my heart sank the minute I opened them. Time has flown, slipping through my fingers so quickly. I think about that day when I held the hand of that spirited little toddler who was so excited, wearing his overalls and Converse sneakers, walking down the hallway on his way to his first day of preschool. I also remember how scared of the future I was. Now as his senior year continues, I realize that I am beginning the journey of 'last' moments. This year marked my last first day of school with him, last homecoming, last Thanksgiving, and last Christmas with him at home, etc. Today, I walk the halls of Keller High with a feeling of sadness, emptiness, and shortness of breath, realizing the day is coming soon that my son will walk out of Keller High School's doors for the last time, well-prepared for his next adventure. The end of an era is fast approaching. Things will again be different. I see his journey, and I have never been more proud of him. I will, again, stand at the doorway as he walks into his future holding on to the moment tightly, as once again, I let him go.

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