All In: Celebrating Our Best
I ended my first blog of the year stating that we must make sure that All Means All when it comes to equity and excellence in learning, progress, achievement and opportunity. On April 18, I was proud to help celebrate nine staff and community members at the Champions for Children Awards Celebration who live out this commitment in our schools. This is at the core of what we do and what we value in MCPS, and these eight individuals and one organization understand and live out this philosophy.
I often hear the phrase, “You know it when you see it.” This implies that it is sometimes hard to describe or explain all of the nuanced skills that go into excellent work. But, former students of Kristen Kane, the 2018–2019 MCPS Teacher of the Year, were eloquent in describing what she did for them:
- She always taught in a way that didn’t make it hard for us, but it challenged us.
- Sometimes I struggled in reading. She never gave up on me.
- Kane taught me to be really persistent and brave.
It struck me that the students did not say that they memorized the days of the week or that they learned facts. They talked about being supported in a learning environment, learning skills that are transferable to any type of environment. Kristen Kane built relationships with her students and taught them how to approach learning.
What the students describe sounds easy, but it is not. Whether we are teachers or work in other roles, we must think about our work and strive to improve. This is hard. We must be learners ourselves so we improve over time. We, as adults working in a challenging field, must be persistent and brave.
Watch Dr. Smith talk about good teaching at the Champions for Children event on April 18.
So, once again, I want to say thank you to the eight individuals and one organization that were recognized for their excellent work—Kristen Kane, Edwina Kollo, Janet Gallagher, Erin Crowley, Helene McLaughlin, Myriam Yarbrough, Stephen Ricketts, Gillian Huebner, and Wells Fargo. I want to congratulate each of them; I know that these award winners represent thousands of their colleagues who do this work so well every day.
To be successful as a school system, all adults in our learning community—including teachers, support staff, administrators, volunteers and individuals in the greater community—must support our vision, mission and core purpose.
Excellent work is never done. We must do it every day of every year, year in and year out.
It is hard; it is rewarding; it is critical. We cannot give up on one child, one adolescent, or one student. Working together, we can all be champions for all children.
Good Read/Good Listen
As we all know, learning doesn’t stop when you become an adult. I am constantly learning about new ideas and exploring new perspectives. I do this through books, articles and podcasts. Each blog, I will share a few of the most interesting ones with you. Some have made me ask questions, some have irritated me; others have made me smile or frown. I hope they make you think critically and open doors to new information and ideas.
Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die, by Chip Heath and Dan Heath
The Genius in All of Us: New Insights into Genetics, Talent, and IQ by David Shenk
The Essential School Board Book: Better Governance in the Age of Accountability by Nancy Walser