Live Oak High School Principal Tanya Calabretta likes to highlight the accomplishments of her teachers and staff, acknowledging the hard work and dedication they continually display to give the students a quality educational experience.
But last month the roles were reversed as Calabretta received the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve Patriot Award, given for her “leadership, empathetic nature and extreme patience and flexibility,” among other things. A Live Oak teacher—who also happens to serve in the National Guard—wished to remain anonymous and nominated Calabretta for the award.
“I’m really honored and humbled by the opportunity to even be nominated because we don’t get into education or administrative leadership for acknowledgments and accolades,” said Calabretta, who took over as Live Oak principal in July 2019. “I know for this individual to go through the process of nominating me was a really big deal because he is not someone who wants to be in the limelight, so I’m really honored and touched he would do that.”
The individual highlighted Calabretta’s character, integrity and leadership in a post on the Live Oak Facebook page.
In the post, he explained how Calabretta helped him in his transition back to Live Oak after he took a leave of the 2017-18 school year due to a prior deployment in the Middle East.
“I am proud to announce that because Tanya has gone above and beyond her service to our nation and shown great support to citizen warriors through a wide range of measures including patience, flexibility, caring for my family, and granting leaves of absence (sometimes at the last minute due to State Missions) if needed, Tanya has won this prestigious award,” the teacher said in the post. “In addition, Tanya has become a great personal encouragement as I recover from health issues regarding the deployment. Without Tanya’s support I would not have been able to survive teaching during the 2019-20 school year and beyond as we approach 2021.”
Calabretta was the first to say that the individual in question is the one most deserving of an award. However, Calabretta is simply happy that she is in a position to empower the Live Oak teachers and that being a recipient of the Patriot Award carries extra meaning because she has a couple of family members who served in the U.S. military.
“I hold military service people in very high regard and am very appreciative of what they do for our country and local communities,” she said. “What this individual has done and the service he’s provided to this country is far above what I’ve done for him, so I don’t want that to get lost in this message.”
Calabretta feels fortunate that she’s in a position to support teachers not just at school, but in this case, also help someone who serves in the National Guard. She values unity in diversity, knowing people come from different backgrounds but together they can do incredible things.
“I always had mentors tell me that you need to have the same behavior, values and expectations you have at home that you come to work with,” Calabretta said. “You shouldn’t have to change or compromise. I’m very fortunate to be at a school and district where we can do that and work with staff and individuals who hold those values as well.”