Last week, I was able to connect with my friend Tony Sabatino.  He apologized (of course!) for not getting back to me sooner.  We talked about our joint presentation proposal for this fall and I told him about my plans to roll our work on a Leadership framework through NCEA publications.  “I’m happy to help in any way I can,” he said.  “But I’ll be sure to tell everyone  that these are your ideas.”  Always self-deprecating, always nurturing.  Yes, the words were mine.  But Tony inspired me, encouraged me, and brought forth the great work.

I only met Tony last spring in San Diego.  We were both on the newly-formed NCEA Advisory Council.  We became friends, he the Loyola Marymount professor, me the still-green superintendent in Montana.  We worked on a leadership project together.  He kept telling me I had something, kept encouraging me to do more, kept gently nudging me.  We saw each other twice more at other conferences and enjoyed talking about mutual friends and our work.

Tony passed away suddenly yesterday.  He was a great man and serves to remind me of the value of mentors.  I’m grateful for our brief friendship.