When I was in grade school, the school had a monthly assembly wherein class awards were presented. The most important of these was Student of the Month. One lucky child from each class was paraded up in front of the school for a handshake from the principal and the approbation of their peers. The lucky kids were also presented with a certificate, their picture in the administration office, and an invitation to the holiest of holies -- the chance to eat lunch with the principal the day after the assembly.
For whatever reason, as a kid in first through fifth grades, I thought that being Student of the Month was the coolest thing ever. I wanted it so bad. And every month, I’d head into that assembly full of hope that this was the month that I’d get to eat lunch with Principal Gregory.
Let’s cut to the chase: I was never student of the month. Not once. In five years. Never. And I wasn’t student of the month in junior high (where you got a lollipop and a hearty handshake), either.
Looking back, I should have realized that hoping to become Student of the Month was a losing proposition for me. That’s because, in the months where I was convinced it was in the bag -- the months where I turned in all my homework, didn’t get my name on the board once, was a veritable angel, in fact -- those were the months that I received the Most Improved Behavior award.
One of my favorite books from this era, Skinnybones, by Barbara Park, explains why this is a problem.
Every single year that I’ve played Little League, I’ve received the trophy for Most Improved Player.
Now, at first, you might think that means I sound pretty good…which is what I used to think, too. But over the past six years, I’ve noticed that none of the really outstanding players ever gets the Most Improved Player award. And the reason is simple. The outstanding players are already so outstanding they can’t improve much. Let’s face it, the only players on a team who can improve are the ones who reek to begin with.
Clearly, I was a delinquent in the making.
In later years, I also didn’t receive Swimmer of the Month, Resident Advisor of the Month, or “Regional OTM Coordinator Of the Month” (OTM, believe it or not, stands for “of the month.” Because, you see, part of my college job actually required me to name and recognize other “persons of the month” within a nationwide student-life organization. And I still never got anything.)
So, yeah, me and “of the months” aren’t on the best of terms.
Until today. Because you see, Berkeley Rep also has a Person of the Month -- an award I gave up on long ago, for obvious reasons. But, as you probably figured out by now, guess what?
I’m April’s PERSON OF THE MONTH!
It took over two decades, but it was totally worth it.
What did it take to (finally) earn this high honor?
A lot of elbow grease. A lot of sweat. A lot of going above and beyond... A lot of this theatre holding a starring role in my life in recent months. But here's the thing: every point in the past five years that we've gathered for the "of the month" thing, I would always spare a second to think "gee, it would be cool if I got it someday," at which point my brain would supply four or five folks who worked harder, put more on the line, and overcame bigger obstacles than I did in the past month (this time, I was convinced that my colleague, Margo Chilless, would be the honoree -- which she was, a few minutes later).
One of the things that makes Berkeley Rep such a fantastic place to work is that it's not "just" a nine-to-five job for any person here. Not for the actors, crew, front-of-house staff, box office team, or anyone you'd find in the artisanal shops or administrative departments. We do this work because we love it; because we're passionate about bringing live theatre to a stage where we can share it with an audience (and hopefully engage in dialogue about that work afterwards). As a team, we work together to create something that is ultimately greater than the sum of our parts. And when that something comes together in the right way...it's awe-inspiring.
On its own, it's a better reward than being named person of the month.
Every month, I'm proud to work alongside the folks who win "Person of the Month," and pleased when their efforts are recognized. But it was pretty darn awesome to be the lucky one for once...I must do it again sometime. (Hopefully with a little less of a wait, next time.)
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