Faith Dennis Morris

Faith Dennis

Faith Dennis

Tell us a bit about your job. What is the most challenging part of being a school principal? The most rewarding?

This is my 15th year as an Elementary School Principal.  After teaching for 17 years in Pre-K through 6th grade, I know what I appreciated and needed from my principal and have tried to be that for my teachers.  I love being around kids and watching them learn.  The most challenging part of my job is trying to help children whose parents don’t support their education.  The most rewarding part, though, is seeing the lightbulb go on over a child’s head when he or she cracks the code of reading or makes a discovery in Science.

Why did you start running? What keeps you going?

I started running 20 years ago after back surgery.  There is nothing like being unable to walk to make you want to MOVE!!  I started with one mile, which I was barely able to do at first.  Since then, I have completed 21 marathons and many more half marathons, 10K’s and 5K’s.  Most of the time, though, I am just running with friends, enjoying the beautiful area in which we live and catching up on what’s going on in each others’ lives.  Running has become a necessity for me – when work or injury gets in the way, I feel the loss deeply!

Carlsbad 2013

Carlsbad 2013

I’ve always thought of long distance running as such a solitary sport, but you seem to have a whole network of friends with you in this – can you tell us about that?

I belong to A Snail’s Pace Running Club (although many members are definitely NOT snails!).  I actually met my husband through the club as well as some of my closest friends.  The club provides both a group with whom to train, but also sponsors many social activities as well.

Do you practice meditation or yoga? Do you find running is actually a form of meditation for you?

I have tried yoga from time to time, but classes never seem to fit into my schedule.  Running, especially the occasional solitary run,  gives me time to think, work through problems and burn off tension.  Running is very cathartic – especially when I finish at my favorite spot looking out at the Pacific Ocean or I spot a group of deer on a quiet Sunday morning trail run.

What advice do you have for women who are stressed out from their jobs (or loss of jobs), family issues, or caring for elderly parents?

I think the keys to dealing with stress are 1) having an outlet, be it an activity such as running, tennis, skiing etc., or a creative endeavor, such as painting or playing an instrument,  2) letting your friends and family help you and 3) keeping your sense of humor.

I think it is hard for people to admit they need help, but when you realize that you are happy to support your friends however you can, it makes it easier to accept.  I have learned this lesson over and over in the last decade.  I have survived two incidents of breast cancer, became a Type I Diabetic, and most recently, developed thyroid eye disease which has temporarily prevented me from being able to drive.  Through it all, my friends and family have come through in amazing ways – from throwing me a “Chemo Shower” party at which I received gifts to soothe my body and soul as I endured the side effects of chemotherapy to most recently driving me to and from work each day so that I can continue to work.

Laughing keeps me sane…I could wallow in self-pity or obsess on worst case scenarios, but that wouldn’t change anything.  Sharing a laugh is the best medicine I know!

What’s next for you?

My immediate goals are getting my vision back 100% and training for some upcoming races.  Longer term, I see myself working as a principal for another 7 years and then retiring.  However, I would still like to stay active in the field of Education in some capacity.  I would love to travel more – there is so much of the world I have yet to see!