Saturday, October 23, 2010
Seven days ago, with the sun shining brightly and the air filled with that autumn warmth, I joined a few hundred parents, community supporters, music teachers, and district employees to hear our high school marching bands perform. The festival of bands has become an annual tradition in this community. Each year the festival is better than the one before. The air is filled with the sounds of aspiring musicians, marching, singing, chanting, and entertaining. I was so proud of our kids, as they represented each of our five high schools. I laughed, yelled out, danced in my seat, and swayed to the music.
When it was over, I found myself wanting more. Parents called out to me: “Hey, Superintendent, wasn’t this great?!” And it really was. It is great to see students putting themselves out there for all to witness, critique and judge. I find myself out there on a daily basis, baring my soul, encouraging, pushing, breaking down barriers and challenging faulty belief systems. So I know how scary it is to step on that field. I understand the joy they feel when they hear the crowds screaming out in victorious celebrations. I also know the feeling of not being satisfied, and pushing to do even better.
Just two days following that mountain-top experience on that glorious autumn day, I found myself deep in the valley, in a poorly facilitated meeting. I can’t tell you how disappointed I was. If our kids can rise to such heights, why can’t we as adults do the same? You know the kind of meeting I am talking about, where it is so poorly facilitated and unorganized that participants are left to wander through the content with little direction or hope for anything meaningful to result from the time spent.
What was so frustrating was that the topic of the meeting was an important one. So, I had to remind myself that I am responsible for getting something positive out of any situation, and to challenge myself to look for potential avenues to influence the work. Still, I can’t help but think of the irony of witnessing a very powerful performance at the band festival, and then being part of something far less just hours later.
The “potential” of a situation has great meaning to me. Everyday, I rise to the “potential” of the day, remembering, “It’s up to us.” As I prepare for the day, I examine my schedule through the prism of anticipation that each meeting, each classroom visit, each conversation has the potential of elevating our students and district closer and closer to success. Each activity has the potential of showing me what my next steps should be. I was certainly not disappointed as the week continued.
On Saturday, a week after the band festival, I sat in an auditorium listening to a choir of 200 youth from all five of our high schools and three of our eight middle schools. Again, I found myself clapping, singing, swaying and dabbing tears from my eyes. I yelled “Bravo!” and begged for one more song to be sung at the end of the program. The performance was remarkable. The crowd cheered and stood clapping in adulation. Another week, and another phenomenal performance from our children!
As I exited the auditorium, I thought about our vision of striving to become one of the top ten school districts in the nation. I am sure if someone had followed me on my journey this week, they would have thought we were already there. I am proud of the kids and teachers I serve. I was inspired. As one week closes and another begins, I will keep looking for the potential in each day. And as I look for that potential, I will be reminded that we can reach higher levels of success, if we will only remember, “It’s up to us.”