This summer, 75% of the staff and students in my entire school district will relocate to a new building. It is the final stage of a K-12 reconfiguration plan that has been in the works in Quincy for over a decade.
This means fewer building transitions for students, smaller elementary schools, and better relationships for students, staff, and families all around. Not to mention more robust programs in middle school, and an expansive new high school.
Is it exciting?
Right before break, the elementary staff learned our new assignments. I am slated to remain in my current role, but many of the teachers in my building have been re-assigned. My colleagues, friends, and mentors. Instead of five teachers per grade at my school, there will now be only 2-3. That means automatically over half of them must move out. It was expected. But seeing it on paper is a different kind of real.
Oh, and remember, we also have a new education funding model in Washington State. There is lingering uncertainty surrounding those funds, a levy on the ballot, and a new elementary school opening. These are not small moving parts that impact our elementary academic programs.
Does this mean our programs will get to create new opportunities for our students? Can Quincy even afford full time specialists at each school? Or will specialist teachers need to take on other roles? Will all stakeholders share in these decisions? All of these questions remain to be answered.
As you can guess, it’s been a bit heavy around here. And I have been caught up in it as much as anyone else.
Until I talked to Bobbie.
As an instructional coach, she is one of the last who will find out her new assignment. And yet when we talked, she seemed above the fray. She has been through a major school reconfiguration before, and she is ready.
This is what she said.
Yes. This is going to be hard.
We will make some very big mistakes.
We will fail.
Some of the best things about our school will be lost.
Her stark honesty and acceptance hit me hard. But she wasn’t done...
AND we are doing this for a reason.
Our role is to help get everyone through this. To remind them why we did it.
We are the ones to remember the great things, and to help to bring them back.
This is the best move for our kids, and this IS going to be good.
As I listened, I realized--this is leadership. Above her own job, above her own program, above the work she has spent a career building as a coach and a teacher. Despite whatever mess we will invariably make, she has an unwavering focus on the bigger picture.
This change is intentional.
In the weeks since, that conversation has settled over me like a blanket. I am lucky to be staying at a school I love, in a job I love. Over the last five years, the enrichment program in Quincy has developed into something I am immensely proud of and extremely protective over. I have spent the fall grasping at that truth, fighting against the coming changes and how they may negatively affect this work we’ve built.
But I finally see the bigger picture.
We are doing this for a reason.
My role is to help everyone get through this change.
To keep our best memories alive, and to help bring them back.
This change is best for my students, and this IS going to be good.
I became a teacher to help make Quincy a great place to live and learn. It is time to put aside my anxiety and agenda. It’s time to lean in to the coming changes with optimism, hope, and perseverance.
2019 is a time to lead.
I’m ready. Are you?