MASTER TEACHER: BAMBI MAYO

This year I was talking to a kindergartener who was so excited about having Bambi for his PE teacher. I told him I wanted two reasons why he liked her. “She’s nice, and we have fun in class.’Then, he said, “She’s been here so long my dad had her as his teacher when he was in kindergarten.” Certainly, that first reason is an apt evaluation of this wonderful woman who has worked not only at Graland School but also has graced the playing fields at a few other schools for whom she worked.

Again, we rely on Di Nestel:

“Over the years, I've read lots of articles about leadership.  What characteristics good leaders possess and what they do and don't do.  I've learned a lot from these articles, but I must tell you I've learned much, much more working with my friend and colleague, Bambi Mayo.  I would like to share a few things that I have learned from one of the best leaders I know, Bambi Mayo.
  1. Being yourself is enough - there is no one-size-fits-all for effective leadership.
  2. Be fully present in whatever you are doing and embrace that moment.
  3. Demonstrate that you care by taking a genuine interest in others.
  4. Maintain the fundamental belief that there is no true success unless others are involved, invested, and feeling successful too.
  5. Sometimes, do nothing; sometimes, the best outcomes come from not jumping in so quickly and instead, giving it time.
  6. It's OK to laugh and not take yourself too seriously.

A few years ago, I heard Bambi describe her own leadership style as that of a dog sled musher. So, I did a little research about mushers in the Iditarod. The musher stands on and leads from the back of the sled.  A musher doesn't have to be out front and does not crave the accolades of others. When the sled crosses the finish line, the musher gives all the credit to her team. At the end of each day, she makes sure her team is well- nourished and well taken care of, before taking care of her own needs.  A musher must know each member of her team as individuals and because she knows them, she treats them differently to get the most out of each of them. A team wins when each member pulls his/her own weight and, more importantly, wants to pull his/her own weight for the good of the team. Great mushers and great leaders instill that sort of loyalty.

“I decided to compile a long and wide-ranging list of leadership characteristics from students that Bambi coaches and teachers.  I thought if I talked to students in her kindergarten class and eighth-grade lacrosse team, that I would be able to ascertain a comprehensive list.  Instead of a lengthy, diverse list, I got a very small, concise and similar list from both of these groups. To no one's surprise in this room, how both of these age groups view Coach Mayo is in fact, exactly the same.  She is who she is, regardless of who you are. What you see is what you get with Coach Mayo. Here is what I heard from both groups. ‘Coach Mayo is kind, caring, fun and athletic She works hard and plans fun activities/practices for us.  Coach Mayo is invested in me getting better. She is the best coach I ever had!’

“Bambi has the ability to be fully present and human when you are with her.  She leads, teaches, and coaches with her head and heart. She is an active listener and a reflective professional.  Her values and humility guide all her decisions and actions. She is a disciplined and compassionate leader. Faith, family, fun, and friends --Bambi Mayo has it all.  More important than what she does or what she knows is who she is that makes Bambi the leader, coach, colleague, and friend that all of us are honored to have in our lives.”
 
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Graland Country Day School

55 CLERMONT STREET    DENVER, CO 80220    303.399.0390   
Graland Country Day School is a private school in Denver, Colorado, serving students in preschool, kindergarten, elementary, and middle school. Founded in Denver in 1924, Graland incorporates a rich, experiential learning approach in a traditional classroom setting, emphasizing the development of globally and socially conscious leaders who excel academically.