I found out last Friday morning a former student went to jail. This would not be the first time a former student went to jail, was shot, or had a baby way too early. This student was different though, he was special to me. I was his assistant principal for both 6th and 7th grade as I looped with his grade level. I knew him really well, because he spent a lot of time in my office.
"My Kid" messed his life, and inspired me to write this call to action. We did not do enough for him, he felt as if he needed something else (illegal) to get by. I did my best by him, and yet still could not influence him to make better choices later in life. But if I had not made a choice to work with students like him, I never would have even had the chance to make an impact on his life.
He reminded me of me, and I wanted to spend time with him, even if it was for negative reasons. This I realize now was not a good mindset. I tried to change his behavior from my office. I was a younger admin at the time and did not realize certain things about students. I thought a bunch of love and talking would change his mindset. I was so wrong. He needed skills, learning, and a mindset to choose other paths in life.
I really saw me in him, and as a 12 year old he was me! Again this is not the last story of "my kids" getting in trouble, but it should be. This is not okay, I have ignored stories in the past, but this one messed me up, and still does, he was me! I will not ignore again. I will make sure to continue to make a difference and give my kids a voice. I need all you great principals out there to join me!
On Friday I went to twitter to find inspiration as to how to deal with this type of situation... THAT is when the record skipped! Where are the tough stories of educators on twitter? Where is the diversity of students? Where is anything other than privileged kids being given every opportunity and promoted. I speak from both sides of my mouth on this, in that I have 3 children of my own, who are very privileged, and I live in a nice safe community. But I also know that when I go to my own child's school I am not as proud as I am of the one I work in. Don't get me wrong I love my kids and the community in which I live, but we make it because of our socio-economic status. I know that there are kids in other places that need me more.
I heard recently in a voxer conversation that we are all replaceable. I say that is a bunch of #$^#%&! We who choose to work in diverse schools are not replaceable. We are unique, we are looking for something more than a job. We want to better society, pull together community, and most importantly see kids as learners and explorers.
I am so tired of seeing videos and pictures of privileged kids without fair representation of diversity on the same platforms. I challenge and call out to all those principals that are in diverse communities to do a better job promoting your kids, community, and staff. It is hard work and there are many stories that make you want to find other work. There are also amazing stories every day in every school. You need to tell them, people need to hear them, your community deserves that. Who else is going to do it, the local paper, please.....
Why are so many good admins sharing stories of students that are not diverse?
Why are so many good admins in diverse schools not sharing stories of their schools?
Why are so many good admins not working in schools that need them most?
Why are good admins scared?
There are so many qualified, positive, and effective administrators that work in safe schools. Schools where even if admins and teachers are not effective, the parents and socio-economic status of the families will make up for any shortcomings. These same administrators talk about "growth mindset" and "innovation," but do it in an environment where they are not constantly interrupted. Interruptions include, but not limited to homeless transportation issues, kids that don't get food at home, and angry children that have no means of dealing with emotions beyond screaming and running. Don't get me started with stories...
Again, I ask a question, as an admin in a school that is diverse, can we still promote positive?
I say yes, we have 70+ videos and a very active hashtag #cddolphins. We promote "our kids" we make them stars! We take content from awesome staff and students! They tell the story with "our kids" and I edit it for "our community." I never took one editing class ever! Just figured it out. We are definitely more active than most "rock star" schools, where the principal is the only story teller. Check it out, I am not scared. We have great students, their story needs to be told!
Again, I am angry and this is a call to all Principals of diverse schools, find your purpose. Don't be so worried about your image, be local, make a difference, but tell your story so everyone see's it, even if your edits are a little rough. If you work in a privileged school, consider leaving and finding a new job where you make a difference at a whole different level.
We all make sacrifices every day, like eating standing up, covering the office, counseling students and parents alike. We mop floors, move furniture, fix computers, wipe noses, and give hugs. Let's do it with purpose every single day. Join me, and as schools, more than any other entity will change the world for the better. Make people feel as equals, end hatred, influence positive. We do have that power, but you have to be in the right place.
If you are not willing, I don't understand? Why did you get into this? Did you not say at some point in your journey, " I want to make a difference?" Did you really want to make a difference, or did you just want to promote what you are doing? I promote what my kids are doing all the time. If you look, we are different, and still we shine! I want that to be the #cddolpohins legacy. We look different every day, but if you visited us you would leave with a feeling of, "I can't do what they do..." We are special, please join us, "our kids" need you!