It's been a challenging few months to be in education, to say the least. As I have said many times before, it is easily the most critical and challenging time I have ever experienced in my decades in the field.
For me education is a calling; it's who I am. I am one of the lucky few who get to say in life, "I get to do what I felt I was born to do." Sure it's been frustrating at times, but who can't say that about anything in life? I have seen a lot since I first entered a classroom in 1984 at T.L Hanna High School. I wouldn't trade this calling for any other passion.
The challenges in education going forward are going to continue. It's going to take a lot of patience, understanding, hard work, and sheer determination. But as a wise superintendent taught me, our mission in education is to keep children safe so that they can be educated. The first part has to happen to get to the second part. We WILL all get through this together - parents, teachers, the community, and especially our children - but it won't likely be easy. Nothing worth valuing is.
I did not get where I am today in education without a lot of wise people who came before me, educational leaders who taught me when I was still young, eager, and learning what it means to lead a classroom, a team, a school, and a district. Those leaders taught me a simple lesson: treat everyone like family and everything else will take care of itself. I have a lot of people to thank for forging in me the mettle needed at such a time as this. There are many, but especially folks like John Ellison Williams, Hopie Shuford, Frank Patterson, and Burney Bourne taught a young educator what it takes to lead, to rise to a challenge and meet it. Those lessons are now a part of who I am. Those educators who came before me are still influencing me today and every day.
And at the end of the day the lessons were clear: treat everyone like family and lead accordingly. Don't just like people but love them. When you do that everything else falls into place.
So here's to tackling the challenges we face in education - let's see them as an opportunity to grow, to learn, and to get even better; and not just educators but everyone because we are indeed all in this together.
The children deserve no less.