A Friend’s A Friend Forever …


It has been a while since the last time I shared any thoughts with you.  I have been extremely busy.  Typical.  When a person retires, he/she tends to keep busy.  However, I did not know how busy I would be.

On June 8, 2022, I agreed to have a “Retirement Job.”  I would teach an “after school” beginning band program at John Adams Academy (real name of the school; important to know;  it is the only school I use the real name).  I would be on all three campuses:  Lincoln, CA; El Dorado Hills, CA; and, Roseville, CA.  This would be the first time I would teach beginning band.  Not the first time working with 5th-8th grade “scholars.”  Nope.  I have worked with that age group before; be it as a music teacher or as a Little League Baseball coach!  The beginning band part?  I use to say, “I will never teach beginning band.”  Never say never.

After I had gotten off the phone with the John Adams Academy leadership time, a friend (Chris) phones me.  “Paul, I need a favor.”  Since 2001, Chris and I have been friends.  We have shared many “life-moments.”

I ask, “What is it?”

Chris responds, “I don’t have any applicants for this part-time music job I have at Big Bear High School (fictitious name).”

“Chris, I am sorry to say, I can’t do it.  I just said yes to John Adams Academy.”

“Paul,” he continues.  “The job is part-time.  I can have you off campus by 12:30pm every day.”

“Chris, I know what it takes to be a high school music teacher.  There is no such thing as ‘part-time.'”

“Paul, could you think about it?”

Diana (my wife) chimes in, “May I say something?  Paul, the last time you said no to Chris, we know how that turned out.  Let’s give it some time before we say no.”  WOAH!!  Now, what I am going to do?

I say, “Okay Chris.  Give us some time.”

He phones again on Friday.  My answer, “No.  Keep the job posted and let’s see the applicants.”

During the weekend, Diana and I helped with “Work Weekend” at a near by family ranch.  The “Work Weekend” ends with Cowboy Church.  At Cowboy Church, I asked the 17 people who were there for their prayers about the possibility of working at a charter school (John Adams Academy) and a public high school (Big Bear High School).

As we drove home from Lake Tahoe, Diana and I talked about what it was going to take.  Monday through Friday, I would drive from Roseville, CA to Grass Valley, CA (forty minutes).  Tuesday, I would drive from Big Bear High School to John Adams Academy – Lincoln Campus.  This is about a forty-five minute commute.  From 3:10pm-4:00pm, teach beginning band at JAA – LINCOLN CAMPUS.  Wednesday, I would drive from Big Bear High School to JAA – EL DORADO HILLS CAMPUS.  This is about an hour drive from BBHS.  From 3:10pm-4:00pm, teach beginning band.  Thursday, I would drive from Big Bear High School to JAA – ROSEVILLE CAMPUS.  This is the same amount of time as it takes from me to go from home to Big Bear High School.  LOTS OF DRIVING.  Lots of Audible Books.  Lots of Podcasts!

Needless-to-say, I am working at both Big Bear High School & John Adams Academy and boy, a FIREHOSE OF BLESSINGS!

Today is October 5, 2022… How is it going?

Well, I am not going to give you too much information either campus.  Let me say, I have another book to write.

What I am going to share with you is be careful how busy you want to be when you are retired and be selective on what you are going to do when you are retired.

Am I enjoying John Adams Academy and Big Bear High School?  What I am enjoying is being with young people.  The great experience of an amazing leadership team at Big Bear High School.  One of the most supportive leadership teams I have worked for.  The John Adams Academy is totally in line with my passion / values!  I enjoy what both schools have to offer.

What I am really enjoying more than anything else is to answer the call for help.  When the founder of John Adams Academy and I met years ago, we had discussed the possibility of me starting a band program at JAA.  So, here we are now and I am loving it.  By the way, the founder of John Adams Academy is a very good / close friend of Chris (Principal at BBHS).  Something providential to be able to serve both Dean and Chris.

There is nothing more important, I can say ‘as important,’ as it is for me to answer a friend’s call for help.  This ‘call’ is what is helping me to persevere through some real challenges – personal & professional.  I stay focused on the ‘call.’  The ‘call’ is – HELP YOUR FRIENDS!

As I said, I have another book to write on what it is like to be a teacher at a charter school and a public high school – AT THE SAME TIME.  Is there a difference?  Answer question with a question:  Is water wet?  OF COURSE, THERE IS A DIFFERENCE.  But that is not the focus of this article.

The focus of this article is – answer the call of friend AND AT THE SAME TIME, set-up a boundary as well.  Another chance to admit something, I admit the boundaries are pretty stretched with these two jobs.  I am so grateful to Chris and Dean for believing in me.  For giving me the opportunity to add value to young people’s lives through one of God’s greatest gifts:  MUSIC.  At one school, I am attempting to save a music program, while at the other school I am attempting to build an instrumental music program.  So different purposes, but again … THE ONE COMMONALITY?  Friends.  Helping friends is such a cool and enriching experience.  I love it – even if it costs me an incredible amount of money to pay for all the gasoline (giggle).

Please consider being there for your friends.  Of course, you never know when you are going to need your friends to be there for you!  Thanks for being my friend and reading this.

Michael W. Smith “Friends”

“A Friend Like Me”