The past year I have been working on finishing my graduate degree and I am finally almost there! It is hard to believe a year has gone by. I have learned so much about leadership in independent, boarding and public schools, but mostly, I have learned about the leader living inside of me. It is hard to believe that I spent years wondering and doubting that I could ever accomplish this kind of graduate program. As a 46 year old woman, it is slightly painful to look back on the insecure young woman who was paralyzed by that fear and self-doubt.
As I reflect on my journey, I cannot help but think of my mom. She always, always told me I could do anything I wanted to do. Both she and my father told me they loved me and if I put my mind to it, I could accomplish anything. I hope my mom is proudly looking down from heaven saying, “Aha! I knew she could do it!” I finally get it, Mom, I really do. This year has been difficult for me, but I also know it has been difficult for my friends, family and colleagues. Although I tried to balance being a wife, mom, friend, colleague and student, I know much of the stress and work fell on the shoulders of the people I love. I am so grateful to have that kind of support. I have learned much about leadership, but I have specifically learned more about: empathy, humility, flexibility, perseverance, resilience, creativity, curiosity, collaboration, reflection and faith.
Seeing the school world from a teacher’s and a leader’s perspective is a tricky wire to walk. I began my journey as an objective observer in my school. It has been said that ignorance is bliss and I now understand why. At first, I was able to simply watch my administrators and take note of their body language, the words they chose to describe our objectives for the school year, and how they balanced supporting teachers, communicating with parents and accomplishing administrative tasks. As the year went on and my stress increased, I began to inwardly question leadership in my school. At times I grew quite frustrated. At times I became quite unhappy and wondered if I knew what I was trying to get myself into. As I look back on that time, my journey mimicked the developmental life cycle of humans. I began as a child in awe of the world, open to new learning. As time went on, I began to try and make sense of this new information as it related to me and my world. I began to question authority like a teenager that didn’t quite have the whole picture yet. And now I feel as though I have grown up. I am ready to take on a new challenge and put what I have learned into action. The great thing is that I have some life experience to add to my bag of tricks to lean on.
This year I have said I am sorry too many times to remember. I have had to remind myself to let go of my ego and acquiesce. I have stretched my ability to see the big picture, multi-task to accomplish multiple objectives, stick with projects and people when I just wanted to stop and take a breather. I have had to bounce back and try again when I made mistakes, be imaginative to think outside of the box in order to come up with solutions that worked for as many people as I could make it work for. This year I worked with the most incredibly motivated, talented, kind, and committed group of people in graduate school and at work. Together we accomplished things more beautiful and innovative than we could have ever done alone. This year I have had the opportunity to think, discuss and write about my work as a new leader. Lastly, I have learned what a great gift it is to have faith and that my blessings are more than I can count.
I have learned that my philosophy of leadership resembles very much my philosophy of teaching. I believe in “walking the talk” for learners through modeling my expectations. I believe in being joyful and in awe of the wonders of our world. I believe that we all have things to teach and learn from each other. As my mom would say, “This ain’t no dress rehearsal! Get out there and make the most of every single second.” What better advice could there be?