When I Grow Up...Future's Day

When I grow up is a statement used by teachers and students in classrooms around the country. As educators we ask students this question at the beginning of the school year to get a better idea about what their interests are, we include it in 5th grade celebration videos to capture children's dreams and it becomes the compass that points students towards graduation and a degree in high school and college.

In its purest form, this statement embodies what our students' childhoods should be about. It embodies what I want my son's childhood to be about; the opportunity to dream.

Two weeks ago a colleague of mine @R_H_Steele shared the following on #EdSlowChat: We often talk about the need to "Take Risks" in education - Share an example of a successful risk taken last year that benefited your students.

Teaching our students to dream is a risk. Expressing what you want to be when you grow up is a risk. By definition, risk means to: expose (someone or something valued) to danger, harm or loss. Dreaming and sharing your dreams is a risk. The minute you speak your dream out loud there is a chance it may not come true. There is a chance you may lose that dream. However in the words of the Walt Disney, "All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them."

As an elementary school principal I value the importance of educating our students through real life experiences and stories from those who have come before us. I value the importance of getting students to dream and empowering them to take the risk to do so. It was through this mindset we started our "Future's Day" Guest Speaker Series two years ago for our students in grades 3rd-5th. Once a month, curriculum is put to the side so our students can be exposed to real life experiences, inspirational stories that showcase perseverance and a spirit of determination meant to empower and drive our students towards their goals and dreams. Speakers share the power of setting goals, overcoming obstacles and stories of what may happen when you take your eye off the prize. Our speakers range from school district employees who grew up in the same neighborhoods our students do today, to current middle school and high school students to public officials such as school board members and the mayor of Plano, Harry Larosiliere.

During "Future's Day" we ask for one male and one female speaker so students have comfort in knowing we are in a room full of girls or a room full of boys. We want an environment where students feel comfortable asking questions and our speakers feel they can deliver a message void of rainbows and butterflies. In fact, I encourage the speakers to "be real" with their message.

Over the last two years students have made connections with speakers who are Olympic athletes, politicians, local news celebrities, company presidents, doctors and engineers. Each of which is a profession our students dream of fulfilling one day. These same Olympic athletes, politicians, local news celebrities, company presidents doctors and engineers share stories overcoming obstacles during their childhood that could have very easily shattered their dreams. Overcoming the obstacles and rising up through the adversity is message we want our students to hear. It is the triumphs that reinforce the need to take risks, the need to want more than those before us and the reason why dreaming helps us answer the phrase "When I Grow Up...".

Our "Future's Day" Speaker Series is coming back again in the fall and if you know of someone who has a personal story of triumph or a story that will encourage our students to keep taking risks and continuing to dream, I hope you will share.

Below are some images captured from our "Future's Day" Guest Speaker Series

Cynthia Izaguirre - @wfaaizzy - Co-Anchor of News 8
Leilani Hinton - Licensed Psychologist
Dallas County Juvenile Department
Dr. James Hinton, MD - Family Practitioner
Roschanda Fletcher and Ronald Gambrell
Texas Health Resources and Cigna Healthcare
City of Plano Mayor - Harry Larosiliere
Miss Texas International - Rachel Lynee Burns
Darrion Lewis - Dallas County Juvenile Probation Officer