Valley View Elementary

Spreading the Eanes Spirit Worldwide

When I was a little boy, the holiday season was always filled with its own particular excitement. Growing up in Chicago, snow, while not assured, was a definite possibility. All the kids wanted snow so the old guy in the red suit could land his sleigh.

A message from Eanes ISD Superintendent of Schools

Dear Parents, Guardians & Staff,

When I was a little boy, the holiday season was always filled with its own particular excitement. Growing up in Chicago, snow, while not assured, was a definite possibility. All the kids wanted snow so the old guy in the red suit could land his sleigh.

During the season, my two favorite holiday songs were “White Christmas” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town.” The latter has a particular meaning as it connects to one of my earliest memories of Christmas involving an argument with my mom. I was probably about 4-years-old. I was singing/mumbling the song, and my mom was listening. Once I finished, my mom asked me to sing it one more time. She then smiled and told me the lyrics were not “Santa Claus is Coming to Tom,” as I was singing it, but to Town. I was devastated. I sat motionless, then promptly informed her she was wrong and continued to sing my version.

Tom Leonard as a little boy celebrating Christmas

That was an era before laptops and smartphones. A world where the most vibrant medium was Life Magazine, which leads to a second memory. I vividly remember one winter morning, a few days after Christmas, watching the snowflakes fall and reading an article in Life Magazine about an individual who had traveled to all 50 states and was going to the North Pole. I thought it sounded so cool.

Over the years, I have traveled to all 50 states. North Dakota and Rhode Island, my last two, actually dragged me the most off-course during my travels. While the North Pole seemed intriguing, after traveling to all 50 states, I have set my sights on all seven continents. Next up for me, this winter break will be the most difficult, one continent where I will be assured a White Christmas: Antarctica.

I have said many times how the Eanes community is special. I am continually amazed by our talented students. Academically, we are without a doubt one of the highest-performing school districts in the country. In the arts, our students are amazing. During the last few months, I have been fortunate to play jazz with some incredible high school students. Each time, I am breathless listening to their interpretations of classic American standards. And we are good in so many other areas. Watching our football team win the state semi-finals last weekend at Baylor’s McLane Stadium was special. Hearing our band, watching our Hyline, EVE and cheerleaders perform, seeing our TEC students' television broadcast of the game…it was and is clear how much talent exists in our schools.

Besides being talented, I believe this is also a kind community. Over the past six years, I have seen our community lift up those in need. I have seen teachers and coaches work tirelessly to support one another and our children. I saw it when an elementary teacher suddenly passed away this fall and as recently as last weekend when a high school student died unexpectedly. In these instances and more, we see the Eanes Spirit of Kindness, where the members of our community come together to care for one another.

My hope is we can spread that message and spirit far and wide, and we can do so in a visible and symbolic way. To that end, we will launch a digital global map that challenges our students, staff, parents and community to symbolically spread the “Eanes Spirit of Kindness” to all 50 states and all seven continents. From big cities to remote forests, we will document the progress by uploading photos our community takes while holding a digital “Eanes Around the World” image. It may take decades to get photos of our community members to travel to all 50 states and seven continents. That is okay, because spreading our spirit of kindness matters more than the speed it takes to do so.

Eanes Around the World image

We will release the digital global map after the winter break. In the meantime, I encourage our community, beginning Dec. 21, to submit photos of yourselves with friends or family – along with our digital "Eanes Around the World" image – for incorporation into the map. Whether a photo from Mount Bonnell in Austin or Mount Everest in the Himalayas, it does not matter; what matters is spreading the spirit of kindness, as long as your trip takes place after Dec. 21.

Over the holidays, I intend to take a selfie with our "Eanes Around the World image," while thinking about my mom and quietly singing, “Santa Claus is Coming to TOM,” as I stand in the snow somewhere in Antarctica – one continent down in our quest. That image, I hope, will be the first of many with which we fill a digital map where our students, staff, parents and community can document all the places in the world where we carried the Eanes Spirit of Kindness.

Download the image and see how to submit photos here:

Have a wonderful holiday season and a fantastic 2020. Good luck to the Chaps - win State!