This year I have been personally exploring my "Whys", both personally and professionally, making sure that my goals and actions are purposeful and draw me towards those visions. What I have discovered in myself since I have been in Orange and seeing the vast work that you do for students, is that I have a burning passion for doing what is right for kids every day and meeting ALL of their needs. This is come through watching the work you do, seeing the challenges you and our students face every day, and how this work is so vastly underappreciated or recognized. This is why reading "The Energy Bus" was so influential to me, and I hope that you discover similar things about yourself as we read, learn and grow together.
I will admit to all of you that Monday was a struggle, as we received our most recent MCAS data. Having poured all of our blood, sweat and tears into the last two years creating the Innovation School, I honestly was a little excited to see how this would translate into our student achievement results. We as a school have done more in two years that most schools do in ten (and we did it quite successfully I might add). As I looked the data over, I felt defeated. I felt like I had let you down, our students down, and in one word, I felt incompetent. And after speaking with many of you this week, I know you feel the same way. You give yourselves to your work and your students and when it doesn't translate the way you hope, you quite simply feel deflated.
So what do we do now? I have the answer: exactly what we have been doing because we know it is the right thing to do. What I am coming to understand is that we have a greater purpose and a greater vision. It is why we are discovering our passions this year and choosing positivity when it can be so easy to complain about what we don't have or the resources that other schools or towns have. We are strengthening the adult community because we know that how we work together and support one another in times of difficulty has an impact on students. We are called to this profession and to this school because "if it were easy, everyone would do it".
WE are going to keep our bus on track. WE are going to continue building a school community that supports each and every child, each and every day. WE are going to ignore the "noise", stay focused on the vision of our school, and not anything or anyone tell us different. It is my hope that we continue to uncover and remember the deeper meaning behind the work we do so that we continue to impact lives. As you watch Emily Esfahani Smith's TedTalk, think about the 4 pillars how it relates to your life (personal and professional) as well as the goals you have for your students. If you are this DP bus, you share our purpose and it has never and never will be scores because our work is transcendent.
And finally, WE tell our story. We choose to focus on what we have and not what we don't. We don't play the play the victim to a skewed system that fails to get it right. We tell others how despite this, we are doing things that others around the state are watching and wanting to emulate. We are proud to say that we work in a building where we do more with less. We continue to move forward and forge ahead because the vision of our school pulls us to something greater and our purpose is bigger than how we are judged by a data point. We stick together because we get it and no one else does.
I believe in the work we are doing. I believe in us and I believe in each and every one of you, and I have never been more proud to be the Principal of the Dexter Park Innovation School.