The Year of Beating Dragons

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August 24, 2017

Dear Families,

We find ourselves approaching the conclusion of another week of school. Today, as I made my way into the building from 6th Grade Turf Time and popped my head into the 7th and 8th-grade advisement classes, I realized something. I realized that despite the challenges that middle school brings, our students know they matter. Do they have moments of angst? Absolutely. Do they struggle with attention? Of course. From time to time do they engage in behavior that shows no regard for our social contract? Sure. But, for the most part, day in and day out, they know they matter.

I know this to be the case for several reasons. First, to date, I have received 27 emails and 12 notes, from students shouting out their peers. They want to be sure that I know their peers should be recognized in the next edition of Principal’s Praises. Advisement classes remain an environment of learning. Homework is getting done. Students remain engaged in learning regardless of my entrance into a classroom to observe. I see daily evidence of “business as usual.” All of this communicates a place of safety.

As a classroom teacher, each year, I selected a theme for the year. When I became the principal, I determined I would maintain this practice. My reasoning remained the same. Middle school provides ample opportunity for anguish, stress, frustration, and angst. I vowed that my staff and I would battle the dragons of middle school with and for our students. Last year, we committed to being coffee beans. This year, we are determined to catch other people’s red balloon.  Many may question the reasoning behind this determination. My answer is summed up best in a quote by Zig Zigler, “Students don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”

I confidently guarantee the following things will occur this year:

1. At some point, each of us will make a mistake.

2. At some point, each of us will experience what I call an Alexander day. It will be terrible, horrible, no good, and very bad.

3. At some point, each of us will feel wronged, ignored, or hurt. Pretty dismal outlook, right?

I would actually assert differently. I believe that in these moments, we have the opportunity to embrace our acronym, CAPICE. We can strive in these moments to further develop life-long learning and honorable leadership. How? We can acknowledge our humanity. We can take ownership of our failures. We can restore the relationships in which we have caused pain. In so doing, we continue to build a culture that cares for all.

I close with a quote from G.K. Chesterton. “Fairy tales are more than true not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” This year, while we catch each other’s red balloons, we are going to defeat the dragons of middle school. The end result, students who engage in learning, face challenges with empowerment and know that regardless of the challenges, they can grow.

Honored to Serve You All,

Janet Worley

Food for Thought: Change your Words; Change Your Life

This Week’s Reflection: When Failure Makes You Great