I’ve been blessed to have had so many amazing opportunities in my life. Right place — right time…..a higher power looking out for me…..whatever it is, I am eternally grateful. Participating in the Our Voice Academy was another example of a truly amazing opportunity and experience.
When I received the email, I was extremely honored but had no idea what the experience would entail. Immediately I thought, this will be a great way to extend my tribe and meet people to add to my PLN and if something else comes of it — so be it. I now look back at my 41-year-old self (the email came 11 days before my birthday ?) and laugh. I obviously had no idea what I was about to face.
I’ve always been placed in situations where I am called to serve in a leadership capacity. I see myself as a servant leader; always willing to assist, support, and develop. My life’s mission is to help someone become a little bit better than they are — because in turn, I become a little bit better, too.
While interviewing for my current job, I was asked “How will you tell our story” — and that question became the driving force behind what I’ve done for the past three years. To tell my school district’s story and work to improve the teaching and learning here; so that our story becomes even more powerful than we imagined. And so, for the past three years, I’ve talked about the amazing things that we’ve done to enhance teaching and learning in my district. And in the upcoming weeks before Our Voice Academy, that’s exactly the story I had planned to tell. But you know what the say about making plans……
In those upcoming days before the academy, I struggled with the organization of my story that focused on student creators and how technology serves as an equalizer. Looking back now, I realize that the reason this story (a story that I’ve told and shared numerous times in numerous ways) was such a struggle was that it was not the story I needed to tell.
The activities that we participated in at the academy challenged me to go back to the foundation of me — my overwhelming belief that relationships are the foundation for everything. “The Power of Relationships” is definitely my fundamental belief….but it’s not as easy a story to tell as “transforming teaching and learning”. Telling the stories of relationships can force you to run the gamut of emotions — laughter, anger, fear, joy, and despair. And I am not comfortable sharing my vulnerability with others. I’m the strong one; the one whose head YOU can put YOUR shoulder on; the one who listens and advises. I’m a fixer — a problem solver and I don’t like not feeling confident about my choices or my actions.
This experience was one of the most life-impacting experiences in my life. Hands down one of the best professional development experiences I’ve ever been a part of. Let me tell you something — the men and women who took us through this process know their *you know what*! I am so thankful for Jennie Magiera acknowledging this need and taking the risk on her dream — this project; and the willingness of Ken Shelton, Monica Martinez and my homegirl Sarah Thomas because all of them understand my struggles because my struggles are their struggles.
So in a way, I was right…… I extended my tribe and grew my PLN…..all of that, but so much more! In my struggles and uncomfortableness, I experienced a success beyond imagination. I am forever changed.
ITC at Darlington County School District
Apple Distinguished Educator
Google Certified Trainer/Innovator
South Carolina, USA