A Kindergarten Teacher Influences a Superintendent

This is an incredible week for me. Not only do I have access to Joanne Picone-Zocchia and Giselle Martin-Kniep who are willing to conference with me individually answering my questions and helping to guide my work, but there’s a wonderful group of educators here too. My work with them is making me a better leader. Why? Because we’re having rich conversations about the changes in our field and their honest insights  help me to see other points of view.

Jane and Kathy, both retired educators and continuing to work in the field, bring a thoughtful, caring and professional view to the work that we share with experiences in the ARCS and protocols of Communities for Learning that have helped me understand the structures of this community. The entire East Syracuse Minoa team has helped me with examples of best practice, ideas for communicating vision, wonderful peer review from Kathy, and Donna, a superintendent whom I wish I had worked with at some point in my career.

And then there’s Alex, a caring, creative, vibrant Kindergarten teacher who reminds me so much of our own RCS Kindergarten teachers that she could seamlessly fit in at RCS tomorrow. She’s been the teacher voice in my head all week. The clearly hard working, dedicated, caring professional who is saying, “okay, I’ll follow all of the mandates, I’ll teach new things in new ways but I’m really wondering what’s happening to our children?” I KNOW that we have teachers feeling that same way and so the power of what Alex is saying is that it reminds me that teaching and learning and this business of school is incredibly complex and there are a million important skills and things that we’ve always done that are still important for their development that must continue. I won’t forget that, I promise.

But I want it all. And I know we have the faculty, administrators and staff to get there. I want all of the fun, creative, developmentally appropriate activities and learning that have taken place all along right next to better student achievement in Math and ELA. I still want to dress up and participate in the PARP plays (maybe without the goose get-up next year please) and go on field trips and read stories for pleasure and play outside and do Science experiments and eat foods from foreign places in our SS studies units. I just want our Math and ELA curriculum aligned and rigorous at the same time. And our teachers are fantastic, so why can’t we have that? I know if anyone else can do it, then we certainly can. Why do I know this? Because our teachers—-YOU—-are incredibly gifted, dedicated, caring and capable and I trust you to figure it out with us.

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