Lead the Way… Or Find Someone Who Can

My hope for today (and this has been a hard day, let me tell you… this is getting harder every day): LEADERS.

A leader listens. A leader asks for help instead of demanding things to be done one (his/her) way. A leader inspires.

When Isabella was in fifth grade and we were looking at middle schools, I was so inspired by the positivity, the motivation, and the strength I saw in Brad White, the director of DSST: Byers, that I did the “unthinkable” as a public school, union teacher: I enrolled my daughter in a charter school. A charter school with tediously high, somewhat militaristic expectations. A NEW charter school.

Here’s one reason why: Brad did not get up there and spout out lies. He was genuine. Honest. He asked a parent of a special needs student to share her story of how accommodating the school had been, more than any other, to her son’s severe ADHD and specific learning disability. He told us all that his ultimate goal in life was to provide a college-ready education for every student regardless of income, ability, race, or nationality. And I believed him.

I still do.

He inspires the kids. He knows all the parents. He actually CARES. Every conversation I’ve ever had with him has been positive.

Next: my current principal, Jen Hanson. I have known her (off and on) for more than ten years, as I worked with her in Douglas County. She is an impassioned advocate for immigrants and refugees and speakers of languages other than English.

She is genuine. I have seen her cry on more than one occasion, and not fake, I-want-to-prove-I-care tears. Real tears. That’s how much she cares about what she believes in and the students she supports.

She values people for their strengths and works hard to make sure that in a positive way, she can help them grow.

So today, at the end of first period when Jen came into my room and asked me if a man could observe my classroom because he wanted to see a strong ELD classroom (and she chose mine), of course I said yes. I walked out into the hallway and who was the man?

Brad White.

What did he do once he realized it was my classroom that he would be observing?

He offered me a hug.

A leader listens. A leader learns. A leader strives to make the best out of everything and everyone.

There doesn’t have to be such a division between charter and public schools. If we could all have leaders like Brad or Jen, every school would be amazing.

So here’s my hope for today: find yourself a good leader. Stand by that person (because a true leader would never ask you to follow). Share in that person’s ideals and inspiration.

Offer a hug. And try to be more like the leader you emulate.

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