I haven’t written on this blog since the summer months and wanted to take the time to explain why.
First – My Campus
I began my second year principalship with our campus in the improvement process for the second year in a row. The school year opened with a meeting about our campus “Reconstitution Plan” that must be submitted and approved by the state. This meant our school and it’s staff would be under more scrutiny from the state, our community, and other stakeholders.
To say this has been a challenging experience would be an understatement. Emotions have been closer to surface and fear began to overtake many at my school. Some of the most talented educators have sobbed over this situation – the best I could do was encourage them, explain that our situation wasn’t as bad as they were thinking, and offer them a Coke from Sonic and some chocolate.
At first I didn’t know what to think – it was hard not to place blame about our situation on other people or even on the state accountability system. But then again, I’m the school leader … wasn’t it MY own failures that prevented us to move out of improvement? Did I do enough to motivate, encourage, or inspire teachers?
Eventually, I had to move past the “blame” stage to the “action” stage – now what do we do about this? What are we going to do differently that we didn’t do before? How are we going to ensure we’re not in this same improvement situation again next school year? So our campus has been working diligently on a plan to help move us from “improvement required” to “met standard” in the eyes of the state.
A lot of work as been done on this campus specifically with professional development, curriculum planning, and data analysis. Many countless hours have been spent planning, organizing, training, coaching, and more with our staff members. Thankfully we’ve had great support from our central administration teams because we cannot be successful on our own.
Second – My Dissertation
Because of the amount of time, effort, energy, and focus I’ve been giving to my campus… my own plans to complete my dissertation (treatise) have been place on the side. I contacted my chair and other professors at Dallas Baptist University to explain the situation at my campus. They’ve all responded was kind and encouraging words – including my Cohort family. Everyone has been very supportive in this situation and I’m grateful to have them has a source of inspiration.
However, I do want to complete this dissertation and graduate. I can only have this paper waiting so long sidelines before it begins to be a problem for me to finish in a timely manner. I’m hoping to MAKE time this next year to complete this final paper.
Finally – My Family
In October, my daughter began feeling ill. It stated off small but grew into this a major problem very quickly. The illness landed my daughter in the ICU of Children’s Medical Center in Dallas with my wife and I by her side. Suddenly all the problems I mentioned before became nonexistent and I found myself I wondering if she was even coming home again. Between her struggling to breathe, blood clots, and a hole in her heart – I knew the Lord was the only one in control of this situation.
A friend of ours started a CaringBridge Website for our daughter. This simple paragraph doesn’t begin to describe the situation we lived during that time. Check out Karoline’s story on her website to read more about this difficult journey.
After 22 days in the hospital, we were able to bring Karoline home with us again – and began a new life of caring for her at home. Slowly, the other issues in my life began to take shape again. Of course a campus in the middle of the improvement process and an unfinished dissertation look different than they did before Karoline was sick – but everything looks different now.
My family time is more precious and richer than before. The problems I’ve described here are still problems – but they’re smaller and not as overwhelming. I can envision a solution and they can be overcome.
I’m so proud of my staff. They have been through a lot, endured some challenging situations, and continue to rally together to support each other. When we finally get out of improvement situation with the state, it will because their efforts. It will be their passion for teaching kids that will shine through this dark storm. Because of their love of students, we have a chance to show everyone watching what Scott Elementary is capable of doing.