Friday, July 18, 2008

New School Year, New Beginning

"The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy." - Martin Luther King, Jr.

This past week we went to Las Vegas for a few days to get away and have some fun. On Wednesday, we were walking on the strip by the New York, New York Hotel and Casino. In the front, they have a display to honor the people who died on September 11th. This quote really caught my eye. I have heard it many times before, but for some reason this time it has made me think about what it truly means.

Last school year was perhaps the most difficult year that I have ever had in my educational career. Every year we face new challenges and problems, but for some reason last school year was different. Even though according to the State of Arizona our school is considered "highly performing," (which is the second highest rank a school can be), we didn't make AYP--adequate yearly progress which is part of the federal law, No Child Left Behind. The reason we didn't make it is very complicated, but basically it is because we followed our special education students' legal document called an IEP and allowed many of them to have accommodations during testing. As a result, those students didn't count as being tested and so we were considered a failure. There are over 100 ways a school can fail.

Our staff is second to none and they do incredible things for kids. This was very demoralizing to everyone. I tried every trick that I knew to help with morale and it just wasn't enough.

On top of that, after 36 years in education and 18 as a principal, I was given a "coach" to help me figure out what to do!! What an experience that has been!!

In addition, we had several things occur that were totally out of the ordinary and created a lot of extra work and stress.

But we survived!!! And one of the best things about being in education is that every year is a new year. Everyone gets a fresh start.

I think that those who work in what I call "the real world" don't truly understand the day to day operations of a school. A school is a microcosm of our society with all that is good and bad and everything in between.

So over the weeks since school was out, I have had a lot of time to reflect on this past year. I am not sure I could have or would have done anything differently. However, I am really glad that I saw that quote in Las Vegas. I have had time to think about it quite a bit. And I am really looking forward to the 2008/09 school year. I have faith that it is going to be a great one. I believe so much that we can make a difference in the lives of children and families and that is why I get up every day and go back to my school. It is more than a job to me and I am excited that I can continue to be a part of such a great place with so many great teachers, staff, kids, and families!!

LET'S GO TIGERS!!!!!!!!!

3 remarks:

Anonymous said...

Sheila, it sure was nice that you taught the grad class last fall. We enjoyed your humor to the problems you were faced with and it hopefully served as an outlet to you. It's beneficial for me as a new professional to the world of public education to hear the professional problems you face and how you try to find the ridicule in it in order to get through it. Thanks :) -Maggie

Julie said...


I love this post and all that you said about schools being a microcosm of our society. How true!! It is a world that many just don't understand. How blessed we are to have the opportunity to work with and help shape the lives of children. I wish you all the best for this upcoming school year. I agree the nice part to our jobs is the ability to start fresh each year.

You are an amazing person and principal.........I hope you have a wonderful 2008-2009 school year.

velvet brick said...

Very well said, Sheila! I love your faith and's what drives our school and keeps us doing our best! Thanks for the blog; it's another great one. Count me in for another trip on this crazy ride called 'Teaching' !