Sunday, April 29, 2012

Never Can Say Goodbye (Jackson 5)

Thursday and Friday, April 26-27

How do you top the White House and the Gala ?  You can't. 

      By Thursday the adrenaline had worn off, and our group was beginning to disperse.  We noticed that a few people were missing at breakfast on Thursday because they had to be back at school on Friday.  It was hard to believe our week was over.  But first we still had a few things  left to do. 

      First we ended up traveling to Education Counsel for a reception and some remarks.  While the food was good, the view was spectacular and of course we could not resist posing for pictures. 

East Coast STOYs

What was left of the group on Thursday.

       After the reception, it was off to the Department of Education to get down to business.  We were going to take part in the RESPECT Project.  I just hoped they were ready for us, because we are a very dynamic group.  We divided the document and each table, along with a Department representative took a section to delve into.  After, we reported out table by table and then we were asked about leadership and how we lead.  I ended up with the last comment, and got to preaching. 
       I met up with many of the Department personnel that I met two weeks ago when the NJ CTOYs visited and the Department was still raving about our session.  I was very proud that NJ represented well, and noticed that there were changes to the document from when we had visited which reflected our input. It is nice to know that someone is listening.   

Considering that not many people had the opportunity to read the document ahead of time, I think we knocked their socks off.  As usual, our STOYs were articulate, passionate, and energized. 

My only picture with Arne, fake Arne that is.


           What can I say about this magnificent week and these incredible teachers?  After knowing each other for only five days in Dallas this January, we formed a bond that I have never experienced before.  By day one in DC, we greeted each other and picked up as if no time had passed at all.  It was family and I was home.   Every one of us is different, some are serious, some  are comedians, some are gregarious, some are shy, some are charismatic leaders whose presence fills a room, while others lead quietly.  All of us have that which makes us unique, and the best part about this group is that we accept each other for exactly who we are.  I have never seen a group who is more supportive of each other.  No one who teaches a particular subject is seen as better or more important than any other subject.  There is no pettiness, no snide comments, no "mean girl syndrome" and no one trying to tear anyone else down in order to make themselves look good.  Instead, we motivate each other, cheer each other's victories, brainstorm together, empathize with the struggles we face every day, and push each other to be the best we can be.  I know I can sit down next to any STOY, and I will always find support and positive feedback.  In a world that is all too often hostile to education, meeting this group has changed my life.  Being a STOY is not nearly as easy as you think, and in the quest to discover our role, ourselves, and what we can do to leave a positive impact on education, it can be very isolating.  These educators remind me I am not alone, and encourage me to get out there and make a difference.  If not me, who?  If not now, when?

         I wish Rebecca the best of luck as the new NTOY and I know that the journey will change her life.  Please know that we are all here to support you.  I'm not going to lie, it has been difficult watching the process as one of the 53 not chosen.  There are plenty of awards I haven't won before, but I worked my tail off on that application, as I am sure most of us did, and the rejection felt personal because I had poured so much of myself into those pages.  But, where a door closes a window opens and I know that my journey is far from over.   I will continue to fight the good fight and do whatever needs to be done in order to improve the state of education for my students.  The alternative is simply unacceptable, because education introduces people to choices and opportunities they might not have known they had, and prepares students by developing the civic values needed for good citizenship.  Democracy, after all, is not a spectator sport.    

See you all in July!


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