This blog post is dedicated to two of my favorite people to work with: Mr.David Ranen and Dr.Patty Bode.
Two years ago, I set out on an adventure, a new chapter in my professional career, and two years later, I have no regrets. When I started my 22nd year of teaching, I also started my first year of being an administrator. In an innovative model, the new principal decided to reach into the pool of teachers for 2 assistant principals who would teach half time and be half-time administrators. I was lucky enough to be one of them. Some of our central office administration couldn't seem to wrap their heads around it: how would they figure out payroll? Who would be in charge of what aspect of the school? Who would do special education? Who would oversee discipline? Somehow, we knew it would work out.
Dave had been a beloved chorus teacher for 36 years at the school, while I had taught first Spanish, then ELL. We had been friends already. When Patty Bode came on as our principal, we already knew her from her years as art teacher, and for me, as family friend. We began planning for the school year on a summer evening over burritos on Patty's screened-in deck. We had a good vibe already, and we knew our team would gel. What we did not know was how well we would come to work together in such a short time.
Between the three of us, we had over three quarters of a century of experience under our belts. We each brought different strengths to the our team. Patty held the big picture, and the vision, always at the center of what we were doing, always grounded with the question, "what are we learning today?" She developed our school's visual culture and embraced the themes of solidarity and empathy, which then the faculty learned to embrace as well. Dave had a deep understanding of and kindness towards the middle school student. They all knew they could talk to him and many would seek him out on a daily basis. He had a calm way about him that diffused challenging situations. I was able to help engage Spanish-speaking families and create a safe space for them in our school and to work with families in a way that was open and inclusive. The three of us supported the school's inquiry group work, field trips, special activities, teachers, and more.
As we wrap up two years working as a leadership team, I have been reflecting a lot on what we accomplished. In fact, I am still trying to formulate into words some of the lessons learned along the way (maybe for a future post). It was not easy most of the time, and in fact, we faced some of the most challenging times of our personal lives and of our careers. Dave and I juggled teaching with being administrators; in fact, really our district was lucky - they got 2 full time administrators who also taught on the side. Still, I know that I am richer and a better educator/administrator for having worked with them. In the meantime, the words that keep coming into my head as we wrap up our work as the "dream team" as some people called us, are "No regrets", and I truly feel that way. I learned so much from each of them, and feel incredibly privileged to have walked into an office every day where I was supported every step of the way.
Dave will be able to make his own schedule from now on in retirement. Patty will be able to follow more creative aspirations and I will continue making waves in any world she goes into. As for me, I will happily go back into my classroom full time and continue to blog about teaching, students, and education. No regrets.