November 23, 2018
Today, having enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving meal, great conversation and lots of laughter, I got to thinking. Thinking about the power that we hold in the lives of children. The power to transform lives, communities and ourselves. The power that makes Thanksgiving so important to me.
It made me reflect, on a statement I firmly believe, “he in the greatest power should be in the greatest service to others.” As Superintendent, I find this statement incredibly true! There is nothing more powerful than being able to provide people what they need. It is incredibly powerful not to succumb to my own selfish needs and give them what I think they need. It is tremendously powerful to sacrifice my will to support the will of others, particularly young people. As educators I hope you also find this to be a truth in your life.
We have the most precious gift, that of educating. Being an educator is a true calling. A calling for a person that is willing to sacrifice self. A calling for a person that desires to impart wisdom and knowledge to others. A calling for people that wish to use their power for the good of others. A calling that requires a tremendous amount of reflection regarding the service we provided that minute, hour or day.
But how do we use our power in shaping the lives of young people? Do we use it in an equitable manner, providing each student what they need? Or do we use it to separate those we believe can from those we have pre-determined can’t? How does ones’ implicit biases factor into the equation of education?
As Haim Ginott stated, “I’ve come to a frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element in the classroom. It’s my personal approach that creates the climate. It’s my daily mood that makes the weather. As a teacher, I possess a tremendous power to make a child’s life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration. I can humiliate or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis will be escalated or de-escalated and a child humanized or dehumanized.” So how do we use our power?
Do you use your power to build and shape ALL people you encounter? Do you use your power to brighten someone’s day with a kind word or smile? Do you use your power to make a difference in the world, no matter how small it may be? Do you use your power to make the world a wonderful and joyous place? Is your power for inspiration and healing?
Or do you use your power to elevate yourself above others? Do you use your power to make someone feel insignificant and maybe even meaningless? Do you use your power to make life miserable for yourself and others? Do you use power to humiliate and harm?
My hope is that you’ve taken some time to reflect on the questions above and are the giver of power. The giver of inspiration. The giver of love to everyone you come in contact with. As educators I believe it is our moral imperative to be givers. To use the power, we’ve been gifted to be in great service to others.
Adam Taylor, Superintendent