While working as a principal at a small, private school, one of my duties was to present the end-of-the-year certificates. These certificates were given for honor roll, conduct, and perfect attendance. I always checked and double-checked the lists to ensure I didn’t leave someone out. Immediately after the awards assembly, a mom raced into my office. She said, “My daughter was so disappointed when you didn’t give her a Perfect Attendance award.”

I immediately began to apologize and said I didn’t realize her child had perfect attendance.

She said, “Oh, she was absent twice, but I don’t think they should have to be here every, single day to get a Perfect Attendance award!”


I had sent a short note to the parents of a fifth grader explaining my concerns that he seemed very disorganized and his work was often messy or incomplete. I requested a parent conference to discuss possible remedies.

The very next day the boy, Rusty, handed me a note from his mother. It was written on a piece of cardboard torn off a cigarette carton. I sensed we might have a clue to the problem.

Later that week, Mom came in to talk about solutions. I explained that sometimes when a boy of Rusty’s age didn’t assume responsibility for his own work, parents saw the same behaviors at home. I asked what chores Rusty was required to do at home. She shook her head and said that he really didn’t have any chores. Then she sighed loudly and said, “I’ve told my husband and told my husband, we should make Rusty sleep in his own bed!”