Principal and Friend

By Melissa Fisch

My subject was Sheldon Reynolds. I knew I wanted him as my subject from the first time our class met him. As he led us on a tour of the school, there were not 5 minutes that went by without a student running up to him and giving him a hug. It is clear that this is his school and he runs it with compassion and empathy. My purpose in doing this project became about displaying how he embodies those characteristics in all aspects of his life. He advises his faculty but always finds time to laugh with them as well. The parents of his students feel comfortable sending their children to the school he leads because he can keep the students in line while at the same time connecting with them. His students understand that Sheldon truly wants what is best for them so while they may end up in his office from time to time, he makes every moment of discipline also a moment of learning. Dedicating oneself so fully to a job might leave some exhausted, but Sheldon’s day does not end at 2:30; he supervises after school activities as well as cheering on his Lynx sports teams before rushing home to his beautiful 4-month old baby girl Coi and his loving and supportive wife Chinika. He spends every minute of his day finding ways to help and support others and for that, he has a school that loves him and a family at home that does too.

The relationship fostered between the person behind the lens and the one in front is delicate. A subject must feel comfortable with the photographer and vice versa. From out first meeting, Sheldon’s easy-going personality reassured me that this project was going to be a successful one. He has always been as excited (or perhaps even more excited) as I am about this project. From making himself available to keeping me up to date on events that would make for interesting shots to planning an event centered completely on our class’s projects, he’s been immensely helpful and supportive throughout. Every time I came to photograph, Sheldon was sure to ask how my week was going and how the class and project are coming along. It is truly amazing to have been able to meet a person who cares so deeply about every person he meets. Being a principal is not simply a job to him, Lakewood Montessori Middle is his second home, all in it are his family, and I am so grateful to have been so warmly welcomed into that family. Thank you so much Sheldon, this has been an incredible experience and one I will never forget.