Inspirational Colleagues… I just can’t choose!

This post is just a great, big love fest.  You’ve been warned.

My colleagues are amazing.  The Blog Challenge is about my most inspirational colleague.  That just isn’t reality for our elementary admin team.  So let me share some of our #petk12 goodness and why I love working with these folks.

Matthew Harris.  Earnest, thoughtful, 100% heart for kids.  Matt and his staff have built a robust community around his small, 4th-6th grade school (plus TK).  Matt is our always-in-a-tie, gentle giant.  I value Matt because he listens more than he talks (not true for all of us <sheepish look>).  And when he speaks, I’m listening closely.  #babyontheway

Sheila Garvey.  Unflappable.  Don’t you just love that word?  Sheila is one calm lady.  And I just love being around her.  She’s new to administration (like most of our team) and is always working to improve her leadership and practice.  She doesn’t let her emotions get the best of her which is a trait I aspire to and admire.  #3responseoptions

Amy Fadeji.  Energy, energy, energy.  She’s a total go-getter and looking to honor the work of teachers at every turn.  You know people who never seem to sleep?  I think Amy’s one of those.  When we’re all down, taking ourselves way too seriously, Amy is the colleague to elevate our spirits and get us back on track.  #divein

Fran Hansell.  Welcome to #petk12 Fran!  I admire Fran for her positive outlook in a challenging situation.  She’s joined a campus which has gone through some leadership turnover in the last three years.  That’s got to be hard.  And on top of that it’s a K-8 year-round charter with a rich and weighty history.  How to get up to speed with so much recent change, a large age span of learners and a pedagogy steeped in history and unique vision? #doctoralstudent

Maureen Rudder.  My rock.  Maureen and I have the longest tenure in our district and she’s done just about every job there is (certificated, classified and admin).  And she’s got a GREAT memory.  So when it comes to perspective and background, everyone needs a Maureen!  And I worry every time she mentions retirement.  Oh no, Maureen, you love it here, remember? #henrysgrandma

Emily Kleinholz.  Now this is going to sound silly, but Emily has an amazing vocabulary.  There are many other traits to highlight but I’m such a word-geek that I can’t think beyond it when I consider this colleague.  She uses AWESOME words in her everyday speech.  It rocks!  Do you ever talk with someone where you’d like to jot most of what they say?  I work with this person.  She makes me feel stupid, and I love it.  #weird

So when I’m asked, Who was or is your most inspirational colleague and why?  I just can’t go there.  We, as a team, balance each other, bring varied skills and knowledge to our work and never shy away from lending a hand.  So my most inspirational colleague is our TEAM.  Cheesy?  Sure.  True?  Yep.

*My apologies if I’ve left out other amazing things you bring to our team.  I’m not writing a novel here folks.

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The role of a mentor?

Honestly, I’m pretty stumped by this one.  I’m on Day 6 of the Reflective Teacher Blogging Challenge and not the least embarrassed to be caught with a blank look.

I’m considering my role as site admin and boy, does a mentor sound good to me!  It’s the start of year four, and I haven’t had a mentor, formal or informal since I moved from teacher to admin.  It sounds so strange to hear it out loud.  No mentor.

That is not to say I don’t have people who I look to as mentor.  But those folks, I have to seek out, share my need, ask for assistance.  Which, of course, they offer with love and care and thoughtfulness…. but someone I turn to regularly, expecting my call, checking in… that’s a void.

I think part of the issue was my experience in the district, at my own site for so many years.  I just changed offices and no one really thought of me as ‘new’ in the traditional sense.  And the transition from Room D2 to front office was smooth.  Not even sure if this was past practice in our district.  At any rate….

What would I have my imaginary mentor do or be for me?

  • A listening ear.  Sometimes I don’t need the answers, I just need to talk out loud and come to it myself.
  • A critical eye.  If I’m heading down a dangerous path, if I’m not following my own vision and philosophy, if my motives are not aligned with students… tell me.  Question me.
  • A kind heart.  This job is hard.  And sometimes I cry.  I bought myself a t-shirt which I’ve yet to wear.  Bright pink, verging on neon.  Front: PRINCIPAL Back: Because Superwoman isn’t an actual job title.  <smile>  I’m hard on myself, trying to be Superwoman.  And I fail.  So be kind, mentor, when kindness and love are needed.
  • A healthy sense of humor.  It’s a funny job.  We’re dealing with the public here and I, more than a few times, think I’ve just experienced an hilarious chapter to a book I will write one day.  Laugh with me.  Heck, laugh at me.  There’s nothing more cathartic than a big, belly laugh.
  • A mind for balance.  Tell me to go home.  Tell me That can wait.  Tell me to take a day off.  Tell me You know you’ve got a deadline here.  Best shut your door and get to it.  I’m getting better at this, but year 1 and year 2 were crazed.

So where is this imaginary mentor?  Currently, it’s right here in the blog where I roll around new and old ideas.  It’s among my elementary admin colleagues who I work, laugh and play with.  My mentor is our staff, who look out for me, notice when I’m stressed, tired or needing a hug.  It’s on Twitter and Voxer where colleagues near and far share their successes, challenges and those yet unwritten chapters.

And so it works.  Not one mentor but many, many influences, inspirations and guides.  So lucky.

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