Nikki was an amazing giraffe. She spent her time working hard to help others and be better each day for those who counted on her.How many of us can see ourselves in Nikki? For me, I see the endurance, patience and kindness that I hope to exhibit with all of my "young giraffes" this year as I guide them to walk on their own learning path. All of our students deserve educators like Nikki. Will you be a Nikki this year?
She was great in all forms of her life, especially her job. She was a walking instructor. As many know, when baby giraffes are born they take a minute to get up and going. Their uneasiness of being able to walk on their new stilted legs is obvious and can be very frustrating for them. That's where Nikki comes in. Every year she is met with the new challenges of working to get those new giraffe calves up and moving so they don't become easy prey to their predators and so they can begin to learn more and eventually fend for themselves.
Nikki's job is pretty involved. She gives of her time and she focuses on each individual giraffe. Some come along quickly and some come along slowly, but it's Nikki's job to be sure they are up and moving in a speedy time frame.
There are others in Nikki's herd who claim to do the same thing. Many of the other walking instructors have been in the their game so long that they almost get frustrated when new calves just can't seem to "get it". They berate and push and cajole to get these new babies up and moving. Many times the little ones get so frustrated that they cry and some give up completely because they refuse to be pushed. The older calves just move on without them and get the ones that are more naturally talented and able to get moving and they leave the slower ones to fend for themselves.
Not Nikki. She looks at each calf as the new creature that they are. She gets them each up and going at a pace they are comfortable with and that makes them want to keep trying. One by one, the calves in her care get up and start to teeter, then walk, and eventually run. Those slower to stand see the others and become more encouraged by them than Nikki. Many times Nikki will ask an already walking calf to go and help the ones having trouble. It's been some time since she learned to walk that maybe the encouragement of a peer would be better suited. Nikki stands by and watches and answers questions when needed, but for the most part her job is that of encourager and advisor.
There is never a forcing nature or a mean demeanor in her presence. She exudes patience and knows that her calves will all succeed to the measure they are meant to. She does all this with the constant nagging and backbiting of the other walk instructors. "She takes too long with each one", "All her calves love her. She must just be the 'fun one", "Parents always ask for Nikki. What's she got that we don't have. I mean, we've been doing it longer than her and everything".
It was true, but the reality was that Nikki loved what she did and had not allowed the weight or monotony of her job to get the best of her. She knew how to encourage and direct and to give guidance when necessary but for the most part she also knew that each little giraffe in her care would have to get it on their own to really make it in their world. Pushing them could be more detrimental than good so she took the time needed to be sure they were comfortable where they were and not where someone else thought they should be.
"Thank you Ms. Nikki" was a common theme as both mommy and daddy giraffes approached her. Calves who had learned from her would constantly come back to see her and even worked with the new ones to help her.
Nikki did more than just instruct. She taught little giraffes how to be successful at becoming big giraffes and to stand on their own 4 feet.
~Special thanks to Gene Ramsay for writing 'Nikki the Giraffe.' A best first-day-of-school gift I've ever received.