Tuesday, July 29, 2014

When You Believe

The topic of this post has been on my mind for a while, but I think I can finally put it into words.  Or at least attempt to!

I believe in dreaming big.  I believe in what others may think is "impossible".

Last night I was invited to be a part of a #USedchat group doing a Google Hangout to talk about "change".  It was an honor to even be asked but it was also just great conversation.  I left that conversation feeling even more excited about the path I've chosen to take.

As I jump into this new role, and as I enter a district who is struggling, I've continually heard people tell me...

- They're so low, you don't need that your first year!
- Are you sure you're ready for this?
- I hope you have 5 years of your life ready becuase that's how long it's going to take to do anything!
- Why would you want to jump into that mess?
- You're not ready for this.
and my "favorite"??
- Don't try to do that, those kids can't handle it.

I hear the words come out of their mouths.  I see the looks on their faces.  But their concern and their statements don't make sense to me.

I have seen the lowest kids rise about the "smartest".  I have seen the downtrodden, find their hearts again.  Why?  Becasue someone believed in them.  Because someone told them they could.  Because someone set high expectations.

I think of two of my friends.  I think of my friend Ron Clark, and how his passion for believing in and working with kids has changed the lives of some of the most challenging kids.  I remember him telling me just a few weeks ago, "Todd, what you're getting into is so exciting.  Imagine the change that you can bring about."  And that's exactly right.  Why would I want to be anywhere else?  I want to be where there is a need, like in Navasota.

Then I think about the conversation I had with my good friend Angela Maiers, just last night.  I must say though, you can NOT talk to Angela Maiers, and not leave changed.  She just has that effect every single time I talk to her.  Angela and I both have the same mindset with people.  Let them know that they matter.  Let them know that you care.  Let them know that they have a voice.  And just watch how much it changes things.

The road in front of me is not going to be an easy one.  I know that.  But as a man of faith, I know that God has placed me here for a reason.  I have seen piece after piece fall perfectly into place as I've made my transition over to Navasota.  I've watched the perfect team fall together.  I've seen passions reignited in teachers, admin, and parents alike.  I've seen a rumbling within the community begin to take hold.  And it's exciting.  It's invigorating.

We're going to do someting extraordinary down here in Navastoa, Texas.  Why?  Because I believe.  I believe in the power that lies within a dedicated group who are passionatly concerned with reaching every child's heart.  I believe in hard work.  I believe in what same claim as the "impossible".  Because you see, in my personal dictionary, the word impossible doesn't exist.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

When a PLN "Circles the Wagons"

As the pieces have fallen together over at Navasota Intermediate, something interesting has happened.

Let me start by giving you a little background.  Navasota Intermediate is being "reconstituted".  Essentially that means that when they hired me as the new Principal, I had to come in and hire a new staff.  I did keep about 4 of the previous staff, but because of where things had ended up the district was looking for a "fresh start".

I accepted the position knowing that I had no experience as a School Administrator, but strangely enough I wasn't intimidated.

And the last two months have proven to me why I wasn't intimidated.  Over the last two years I've built a PLN (personal learning network).  It's people that I met online (through Twitter) who I vent to, learn from, grow with, etc.

After accepting the position and beginning to rebuild the campus, something happened.  What happened was my PLN began to "circle the wagons".  I can't even begin to express the emotional overwhelmingness over the last two months of receiving texts, phone calls, Voxer messages, tweets, Facebook messages, and more.  People were genuinely excited for me and the future of that campus.  But so much more than that, they wanted to help, however they could.  ISTE was a huge eye opener for me this year as person after person came up to me offering help.

Crazily enough, what has begun to happen is that Navasota Intermediate is quickly becoming an example of what can happen when you build a "PLN school".  It's so much humbling to watch different people I admire or respect offer their time and resources to help us grow and become the best we can be for these kids.  Even education companies have come onboard to help us in our mission.

I have a few educators on my staff who understand the power of social media, but more and more are learning.  I sit in an airport right now, on my way to Podstock in Kansas, and I can't even truly comprehend what is happening or what is coming for Navasota.

Every day I show up to work this summer brimming with ideas.  Then I come in contact with one of my new teachers, or a group of new employees, or my admin team, and I am just filled with so much joy and pride.  I am honored to work along side these people we've selected for Navasota Intermediate.  I believe strongly that we can build a school that changes things.  Build a school where every student is valued, where every child finds their version of success, and where learning happens.  I know there are amazing schools out there, but it's so exciting to be building one, pretty much from scratch, and watching my PLN "circle the wagons" to help.

The world better watch out, Navasota Intermediate (with the help of my PLN) is about to make some waves.