Finding Educational Excellence

It is all too common to blame teachers and education for everything we perceive as wrong or difficult in our world.  Most of the criticism comes from people who have never spent a full day in a classroom.  Education has become our political “whipping boy.”  We have abused the best teachers and schools with new politically-driven, fear-based tests.  For how long can our profession withstand the effects of assessments that are not developmentally sound?  We have broken the hearts of the finest teachers in the world.  Many have left the profession in tears.  It is these master teachers we need to help us find our way to a healthy and successful life.

Educational excellence will not be found in a new standardized test.  It will not be found in the new teacher evaluation.  It will not be found in the Common Core alone.

Educational excellence will only be found in supporting courageous teachers committed to the cognitive, social, and emotional needs and success of their students. 

We must stop the harassment of education.  We must take the shackles of oppression from our teachers and invite them to participate in academic decision-making.  Our only hope of transforming education is to challenge and care for the human heart.  The transformation of education will be accomplished when we join in dialogue built on Integrity, Authenticity, and Vulnerability.


You Are Essential

Please remember you are here for a purpose.  You are an essential part of the puzzle that is this life.  There would be a missing piece without you here.  The puzzle of life is not complete without you. 

Be gentle with yourself. 

Be kind to yourself.

Be grateful that you are on this journey called life.

Many of us have lived inspiring lives and we still question our value.  You are enough.  You are perfect just the way you are.  The world is complete.  You are here.  Acknowledge your achievements.  Appreciate all you have learned.

You are amazing. 

You are a gift.

You are a child of God.

Be gentle and kind to yourself.

Claim the Gift

I am your friend.  My love, respect and appreciation for you goes deep.  Although I have attempted to give you all that I have, I am aware there is nothing I can give which you do not already possess.
There is very much, however, that you can claim.  The peace of heaven can come to us when we find peace in the smallest gift in our day.  Claim the peace.
            The negativity and judgment of the world is a shadow.  Behind the shadow within our reach is joy.  In every challenge, there is a gift.  Claim the gift.
            Life gives abundantly.  We judge the gifts and ignore or cast them away.  Open the gift; rejoice in the splendor woven by God’s love, wisdom and power.
            Claim it, grasp it, and you touch the Holy Spirit that brings it to you.  Everything we call a trial, sorrow or duty spirit’s hand is still there.
            Life is bursting with meaning and purpose - full of beauty.  What we refer to as reality, cloaks the true reality.  The reality of heaven on earth.
            Courage to claim it is all that is required.  Courage you have.  It is your spiritual birthright.
            We are pilgrims together.  Brothers and sisters finding our way home.

            So, at this moment, I greet you.  I acknowledge you, not quite as the world greets you but with profound esteem, respect and love.  I acknowledge you daily in prayer.  I greet you now and forever as the daybreaks and the first light of morning sends rays of spirit to banish the night.


Real Friendship

There is no real friendship until we share the personal experience of who we are.  We cannot have both truth and love in our lives until we share our truth and love, until we speak from “I” and take responsibility.  We must stop putting all our pain on “you”, on the others in our lives.  Until I take responsibility for my own mistakes, where I have stumbled and fallen; I cannot know truth or love.

I have a friend.  We have known each other for over 30 years.  We have known each other across the continent.  We have stood together in storms, never knowing if we would be safe.  We have comforted each other through accidents, illness, fear and loss.  We have held each other when our parents died.

I have loved him when he tried to hide and my words could not reach him.  He has loved me when I felt unworthy of love.  Because we dared to trust, to open our souls to each other, because we have broken to pieces in front of each other, we have the privilege of saying, as if for the first time,

“You are my friend.”

I look at him, after what for many is a lifetime, and we say, “Tell me your truth, share your love.”  Let us sit closely together, more interested in huddling together than flying away.

Having a real friend, one with whom you can share your deepest fears and greatest joy, is a form of wealth that will bring you everything you need.

To find this kind of friend, we must be this kind of friend.

What is a friend?  It is a person with whom you are truly yourself.  You do not need to be better or worse.  Just be.  When you are with him you feel as if you have been rescued from a long seclusion.  You do not have to be on guard.  You can say what you think; express what you feel.  He is never shocked or offended as long as you are authentic.  He understands the contradictions in your nature.  With your friend, you breathe free.  You can take off your coat, slip off your shoes, lay on the floor and relax.  You can be vain or vicious, fragile and soft, you rest in his ocean of loyalty.  He understands.  You do not have to be careful.  You can be still with him.  He is water, a refreshing drink, a cleansing shower.  He is the sun that warms you to the bone.  He understands.  You have walked with him, sinned with him and prayed with him.  He sees you, he knows you, he loves you.

With a true friend, you dare to be yourself.