Do you know any odd birds? Individuals in your life who you love, despite the fact that some of their behaviors can be unique and very challenging? Or are you like me, the person who at times can relate to being that odd bird? Either way, or both, there are lessons to be learned from this.
 
Today marks the official close of my summer having spent the last week with family and friends on our beach vacation to Galveston, Texas. We started this tradition 30 years ago and have not missed a trip (excluding five years of continual childbirth) since. Though we have all moved and settled in different places, our same group of friends gather annually. And each year, when I am feeling so thankful for our group of odd birds, each with our own eccentricities, differing beliefs, and at times very off-putting behaviors, I think to myself, “I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
 
This point was driven home for me when we visited the Rainforest Pyramid at Moody Gardens. I could see all of my friends and family represented in the varied wildlife to which we were exposed. Tons of exotic animals, unique and special, all cohabitating in a very confined space. Hmmm… Sounds like a typical classroom to me.
 
Teachers, it’s that time again. As you head back to the school for another year of learning, look for ways to celebrate your own unique rainforest of kids. Help students identify their individual gifts and challenges and embrace them. For once they leave your classroom the rainforest will only get larger, so it is important they learn a critical life lesson while in school – that even with their differences, they have a place and are accepted.
 
[Cue Music: Circle of Life from The Lion King]