My Moment Day 30 - Are You Going to Be OK?

If you have not gotten a chance to read my blog about my #oneword for 2016, check out Enjoy the Moment.
As I mentioned in my blog, my #oneword is a call to action for me to be mindful of the moments that make up my day. The moments at home, the moments at work and the moments that happen in between.

I am the proud principal of a Title I campus that serves over 400 students who make up a diverse school community. Almost 80% of our student body qualifies for the free & reduced lunch program, which means the needs we meet on a daily basis go far beyond "just" the academics. 

Over the weekend, while surfing Twitter, I came across the following article written by Bruce Hansen at Education Week, "Teachers at Low-Income Schools Deserve Respect".  

I remember my first experience working in a "low-income" school. I had previously taught at a school, well, let's just call it the opposite of "low-income" and when a parent found out I was leaving he/she approached me asking "Are you going to be ok?" At the time I wasn't sure what to do with that question. "Was I going to be ok?" Why wouldn't I be ok? What did this parent know that I didn't? 

Now, after nine years as an administrator in "low-income" schools, I know what they didn't know. 

I know that "low-income" schools require the best teachers. OK teachers do not last very long on a "low-income" campus. As Hansen states in his article, "Working with children who live in poverty requires some special skills." Teachers must balance the profession with their personal lives and let's be honest, that's tough. Our students need 100% of our 100% and if we are only able to give 100% of 75% the students are not getting what they need. Teachers in a "low-income" school must not only address the academic needs students face, but they must also address the social and emotional needs of students, which at times can limit the teachers ability to deliver the academics if not done with the "special skills" required. 

I know that "low-income" schools are anything but low performing. The term "low performing" in itself means we are comparing all students based on a single measure; an equivalent expectation. I will be the first to argue, we must have the highest of expectations for our students because in some cases, it's these expectations that allow them to reach their full potential. But to label a campus as "low performing" does nothing but feed a public misconception, which is disheartening to the teachers  and community who pour their heart and soul into the children we serve. While our scores may not mirror the top scores in the state, the last thing we are is low performing. Come walk in our building. Come meet our students and listen to their stories. For each story you hear, I will share a story of perseverance and dedication that far exceeds what would happen on a low performing campus. (Really want to know how I feel about railings and rankings, click here.)

I know my teachers and all the other teachers who work in "low performing" schools deserve to be recognized for the work they do. They make a choice. They make a choice to work where they do. These teachers are phenomenal. They could go and work at the "high performing" campus tomorrow. They don't! Each day, these teachers wake up and make the conscience decision to embrace how hard their job will be, rising above the challenges, knowing the students they serve are worth every obstacle they may encounter along the way. 

So, to the parent who asked me the question "Are you going to be OK?" nine years ago...I know what to do with that question now. I have my answer. 

Yes, I am going to be OK. In fact, I am better than OK. I have the honor of working with the best teachers in our profession and have the awesome responsibility of serving as a role model for students. In some cases, I'm the role model for the students who need it the most and have no where else to find one. In my line of work, my cup is filled daily and it's emptied as well, but I know it will be full again the next day due to the passion and greatness that surrounds me.

Yes, I will be OK. 

What was your moment today? 

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