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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

A Letter to the Christie Staff

Dear Christie Staff,

I love to have fun - to have a lot of energy. I love to get overly excited about 3D printers and new paint. I love to celebrate the small things. I love to play games and make mistakes, change my thought process on a dime, and think 10 steps ahead. But most of all - I love to laugh...and in this profession, sometimes if we don’t laugh the alternative is to cry -

Yet...while I do believe in having fun, there is something I want you all to be certain of...when it comes to you, when it comes to your success...which results in the success of our students...I take things very seriously. Because here is the thing, I want our students to go to the best school in this state. That is where I have set the bar, the very best -

That said, for me...the best school doesn’t necessarily mean the school with the highest test scores on STAAR or the largest growth rates on MAP (Although it never hurts to try) - The best school doesn’t mean the school with the highest parent involvement, endless amounts of money, or the newest technology in every class. No...the best school, the very best, is the school where every person on staff, from the classroom teacher to the unsung paraprofessional, has the same belief - that we love our kids, and each one is going to be successful this year and every year after.

For me, the best school is one filled with colleagues not afraid to take risks, make mistakes, to learn from failure, or to believe in every child no matter what. The best school is filled with staff members refusing to judge or ridicule the people working so hard beside them, and truly accept them for the not-perfect people they are. The best school only has teachers who are always looking for ways to improve, to reach that struggling learner, and to learn something new. Teachers who can’t help but worry about that student who literally refuses to do anything, even when you said please, and gave him Cub Cash, and a Rachel’s Challenge link, and gave him choice, and used proximity control, and praised him in class, and then called home with a complement thinking that would get him to like you… The best school is the school that never gives up, never makes excuses, and understands that above all else, together...anything is possible.

There is nothing in this world like being an elementary school teacher. You would think in college, while we were looking into the profession, we would have stopped and said….”So let me get this right, you are telling me if I go into teaching I have to work with students, AND parents AND other teachers. That I won’t be rich. That students won’t just want to sit down and work hard because I say please. That even with summers off I will still end up working more hours than the average business man/woman each year. That I will be required to be a master teacher in math, science, social studies, reading, writing, health, technology AND citizenship, manners, and how to be a friend. That I will rarely get a Thank You, and many of my parents will be pretty sure they know more about my job than I do. Oh, and I may get a principal that likes change.”

Here is the crazy part - our soon-to-be professor would have said, “Well, Yeah.”

And our response? “Well, sign me up.”

Let’s face it, you just have to be a different kind of person to do this job. Because the truth is, it is hard enough when we are not striving to be the best. But here is the thing...that is exactly where the bar has been set.

This afternoon you heard about the idea of mindset and praise. Let me be clear, we need to build up our students. We need to help our students form a self-efficacy that will carry them well into the future. We just need to be authentic and honest in our praise. We need our students to understand that we don’t love them because they are perfect, or because they got all A’s. No, they need to know that we loved them even before they tried, that we are going to celebrate the process, and expect great results along the way.

Christie staff, I am not going to lie to you. We are taking risks both now and in our future. We are going to welcome technology owned by the kids into our classrooms. We are going to utilize project based learning for the first time K-5. We are going to work with instructional coaches to become better teachers in the areas we have room to grow. We are going to teach differently, try new things, and learn through every step of the way. We are going to focus on writing in every subject. We are going to teach our students how to be both digital and personal citizens. We are going to work hard, maybe shed a few tears...but we are going to do it together.

We WILL be the best school in this state. I truly believe that. Our kids deserve the best. You deserve the best.

Each day I come to Christie hoping to serve you all to the best of my ability. De’Cole and I want nothing more than to say this: At Christie we may not be perfect, we may make mistakes, and we may even take a risk or two that doesn’t pan out the way we hoped...But we did it together. We did it as a team...because we truly understand that together, anything is possible.

For us, that anything is the success of every child, no matter what -

It is a privilege to serve and support you,



  1. Wow, this is really inspiring

  2. I teach middle school. Your blog rings true for all of us. Please keep writing.

  3. I love that we are going to be focusing on writing across subjects and you would be a great role model for the students because you do an excellent job conveying your thoughts and ideas in your own writing!