What could have broken me, made me who I am

A spirit deep inside me has always invited me to do more, bounce back, keep going. I have come to know that spirit as my unconditionally loving God. Our special needs daughter, Ashley, has faced countless health and life crises. In each challenge, I found myself going deeper into prayer.  Even though frightened, I found myself meeting each new developmental and life challenge head on. I’m not good at avoiding. I am not good at compartmentalizing. In my life, everything is connected, everything is personal. In every crisis my family has faced with Ashley I found myself looking for the ring of light. Where is the hope? Where is the lesson? How can I be a better man?

Because Ashley is so physically challenged, my own internal challenges are revealed to me. I look at my own imperfections and I share my pain and vulnerability without shame.

Throughout Ashley’s 34 years, Sandra and I have looked for doctors, therapists and answers to help her heal. I now know that she is not here to be healed. She is the healer. This little special needs angel who is developmentally two months old, who cannot speak, who cannot make a conscious movement, who is tube fed and diapered. She is the healer. She is the grace of God. She has healed my life by her presence. Her unconditionally loving presence.

 I have learned that presence, Ashley‘s presence, is deep spiritual listening. She is totally open and vulnerable, she has no defense. She is beyond any thinking that makes sense. She is beyond cognition. I have needed to let go of old mindsets, of what is normal. We live beyond normal. We live, with Ashley in the mystical. We live in Grace. We live in love.

Building a School Family

Schools can change the lives of children and together educators and children can change the world. We must “fully embrace the responsibility of the lives entrusted to us.” - Bob Chapman

Every school and school leader has the responsibility to create a school family and community that keeps children physically and emotionally safe.  We must teach and model caring, forgiveness, gratitude, empathy, compassion, trust, respect, nurturing and love. When we hold ourselves and children accountable, that is an act of love.

We need to treat each staff member and each student the way we want our own precious children to be treated.

We need to build a school family and community where everyone wants to come every day. Where they will be nourished in mind, body and soul.

We need to find role models and mentors for ourselves, our staff, our parents and our students. Mentors that model the essential social and emotional skills for being a good human being.

We need to see the potential in everyone in our school family. We need to encourage and inspire our staff and students to develop their strengths and passions.

We need to respect our talents, similarities, challenges and differences.

We need to celebrate our diversity as a school family. We need to support each other in our diversity.

We need to be patient with those that are in pain and afraid of growth and change. We need to listen to their story and find out what has happened to them.

We need to help staff and students grow beyond our school family. Just like great loving parents, we need to give them roots and ways to grow. At some point, they will all leave us and we will know we have served them well.

We need to be real, authentic, vulnerable and courageous. We need to laugh together, cry together, talk it out, talk it through, and forgive and forgive and forgive.

Everybody Matters

“Every single employee is someone’s son or daughter. Like a parent, a leader of a company is responsible for their precious lives.” - Bob Chapman

As educators, our students are our children. We are all responsible for “their precious lives.” Educational leaders are likewise responsible for the “precious lives” of everyone on their staff.

Every day we must make the time to show our students, our colleagues, our support staff and our parents that we care and that they are important in our lives. We need to acknowledge their value and the positive impact  they have on our schools and on the lives of our children. We need to acknowledge educators for their patience, perseverance and passion. We need to acknowledge our support staff for their caring, consistency and compassion. I need to acknowledge our administration for their leadership, humility and faith in us. We need to acknowledge parents for their belief in us, their trust in us and in their love for their children. We need to acknowledge children for their effort, for their creativity and for their honesty.

We need to affirm and value every human life. We need to inspire and help them achieve their dreams. Our caring, affirmations and empathy can become contagious. This positive contagion will leave our classrooms, schools, families, community and world a little bit better.

What makes schools great is being human.

The secret to a successful teaching and learning experience is relationship.  Do we care?  Are we connected?  Is what I'm teaching meaningful and relevant to my student's lives?

What is essential in school and life is how we treat people.  How do we treat our students?  How do we treat our co-workers?  How do we treat our Administration?  How do we treat our custodian?  How do we treat our aides?  How do we treat our bus drivers?  How do we treat our cafeteria workers?  How are we showing value to everyone we come in contact with?  How are we showing kindness, compassion, and gratitude?

What makes schools great is being human.  
We must acknowledge people for what they do and most importantly, for who they are.