Monday, September 1, 2014

#ArrowPride is Here!

#ArrowPride is Here!

I am a part of something incredible.  

      I've waited to write about what is happening in our school and our district, not because I haven't noticed, or because I'm not excited, but because I don't know that I have the ability to fully communicate just how much I have noticed or how excited I am. 
      I'm afraid that I don't have the eleoquence to share just how magical this first week of the 2014-15 school has been.  How do I put into words the choking feeling I get in my chest when I see the way that our teachers and staff and joking and laughing in ways that they weren't doing last year?  How do I write about the tears that I shed as I listened to others share their challenges during our staff luncheon on Wednesday? Or the giggles we all shared as others shared the stories of how they met their spouses? 
       How do I tell about the goosebumps I get when a staff member of 27 years comes in and thanks me for what she says has been the best start of the school year she has ever had- that she feels so hopeful and excited for this school year in a way that she has not felt before? 

       How do I express how inspirational it is when staff member after staff member launches their first blog post, baring their hearts to the world?  When they jump into Twitter, holding each other's hands?  When a first year teacher designs a logo for us and then another one for a potential bumper sticker? When a business owner tells me that she has been hearing really great things about our school and what is happening there?  When someone like Missy Emler, newly a member of the CESA 3 team, writes a blog post highlighting what is taking place here? (You can check out her blogpost here:

      Something magical is happening and I don't know if words can ever truly capture magic.

      But, as so many have said, if I don't tell the story, who will?  And who has the unique perspective that I am priveleged to have?  So please know , whatever enthusiam and excitement I am able to convey in this post, should be multiplied by 100 to equal what I am really feeling inside.

      You see, I am JACKED UP!  Fully, 110%, no holding back...JACKED UP.  For those of you who know Jimmy Casas (@casas_jimmy), you will recognize that as one of his signature phrases.  We were so fortunate to have Jimmy join us for our district-wide Back to School session on Tuesday.  And in typical Jimmy fashion, he brought it.  BROUGHT IT! He had us laughing, reflecting, talking to one another, feeling encouraged and motivated...all in an hour and half session.  The speed dating activity he led following his session allowed staff to meet face to face with others that they might never have met.  I connected with middle school and high school staff and was finally able to put names with faces.  Afterwards, as a district, we traveled to a nearby park to enjoy a picnic and continue the conversations that had begun earlier.  It was magical to see the way that everyone was connecting- and by everyone, I mean EVERYONE.  Secretaries, bus drivers,paraprofessionals,  teachers, kitchen staff, custodians, administration- we were all there, celebrating and honoring the important roles that we each play within our district.  The talking and laughing just didn't stop.  One note that Jimmy made to me was that he couldn't tell who was who- teachers, administrators, custodians, assistants, food service, bus drivers:  all were interacting and mingling without any distinction.  He noted that this is not the case everywhere and that we should be proud of this interaction.  We truly are a team- a team working together to create the very best experience for the students of our district. 

     I won't lie- seeing Jimmy Casas in action was incredible.  He had staff talking and laughing, high fiving each other, and reflecting on their own actions and beliefs. I appreciated so many things about his visit: the "pump you up" messages (and there were plenty of those)  but also the way he made us think: he asked "Why are we doing what we do?  Why aren't we celebrating everything that we already doing?  Are we showing each other just how much we believe and trust in one another?  Do we show our students that we believe in them?  Do we consider where they are coming from?  Are we doing everything that we can to instill pride in ourselves, to celebrate our achievements?  Are we remembering to have fun?"  I saw many heads shaking as he spoke.  
      But maybe the most important thing he did was to give us all permission to believe in what we are doing.  "If you want to achieve greatness, stop asking permission."   I am passionate about what I do, and I wholeheartedly believe that I have the best job in the world.  Not everyone is as fortunate as I am to feel this way about what they do for a living.  I get that- but sometimes I have felt that I need to hide just how deeply I feel about my role in education. I am done with hiding how I feel.  This is what I was put here to do- make a difference in the lives of children and their families, in whatever way that I can.
      Jimmy left us last Tuesday with a challenge:  each staff member was to choose one Take Away- one thing he/she was committing to work on this school year- and email that committment to the two bulding principals.  I sat in my office on Tuesday night at midnight, crying as I read what people had written.  Written with their hearts, being completely transparent and open on where they want to go this year.  How do I put into words just what a privilege that was for me to witness?
       Every single day, even in the difficult moments- especially in the difficult moments- it is a privilege to be a member of the Lancaster school district.  We are seeing #ArrowPride take off in ways that we never expected.  Staff across the district are connecting and working together, highfiving one another, complimenting and supporting one another.  

      A few weeks, ago, I was seeing Possibilities.  Today, as we prepare for tomorrow's opening day, I am seeing so much more. Those possibilities are coming to fruition and I am blessed to be here to witness that.  

       Look out, world, we are just getting started- and there's no limit to what we can do- TOGETHER.

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