How We Are Changed I: The POY Moves On
When he told the staff, wearing that tight-lipped smile, you had your choice of reaction: weteyes, or the thousand-yard stare.
The hows and whys of departure wash upon the unbloggables, but the guy leaves a legacy. His plan and vision is literally nothing less than a blueprint for how truly public, uncharted schools can bring about high achievement in high-needs communities. The combination of anti-tracking ability grouping, extended school day, curricular reform and supplementation, site-specific teacher development, and the cultivation of academically focused, student driven school culture exists as a vibrant counter-argument to the sky-is-falling privatizing barbarians -- although that was never the point. And while this model of school reform and sustainable growth failed to take hold in our own District, the ideas are out there, spread through the various conference going and site-visitations that continue on an almost monthly basis.
I can only begin to reflect on his impact on my own development as a teacher and educator. I'm sure there will be time for that, time for a hundred visions and revisions, time for me to stumble through my own thank yous for opportunity, for the gifts of conversation and perspective, for the teaching and learning that typically occurred in a cluttered office, after the kids went home. Time for that, but for now, the questions push out the rest. What will happen? Who will be the next principal? What does the future hold for the Vice-POY? Will we keep our extended day? Will we keep our fantastic scheduling methods?
And what all these questions ask, without always saying the words, what all these thoughts, the ones that are shared by an entire school community, what they keep coming back to is the question that hits at the not-so hidden fear that comes from watching the ebb and flow of schools like ours, in districts like ours, the question that comes from seeing what happens when schools that are defined more by their challenges than their advantages lose key personnel: Can we continue to grow, or will we crash, like Icarus, a casualty of trying to fly too high?