On Monday, I got an email from a parent who was apologizing for not being able to attend our Coffee with the Principal. Of course, I thanked her for taking the time let me know and told her that I’d be happy to accommodate her at a different time. She said that she would like for me to call her and that she had something to talk to me about. So, we scheduled a time that worked for both of us and at 1:30 on Thursday, I gave her a call. As I’m sure you can imagine I wasn’t sure what to expect. She had indicated that it was nothing serious, but I was still a little curious.
After she said hello and began to share what she’d wanted to talk to me about, I couldn’t help but be surprised. Here is what she said:
Mrs. Prati, I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how amazing I think JW YOUniversity is! I know that other schools aren’t doing this and I’m sure it takes a lot of time to plan. I’m so impressed with all of the different courses that you offer and that you value giving time in the school day for kids to explore things they might like to do. I was wondering if you have thought about offering a Mindfulness class because I work in a really stressful job and I started to feel like I was not doing my best work. So, at work, I’ve started sharing mindfulness activities with my colleagues. I know that we can’t do our best if our minds aren’t clear and calm.
At this point, I was speechless…that never happens.
She went on to explain all of the things she does with her staff at work. Then she started talking about how she knows that she and her son need to be mindful at home too. Here is what else she said:
My son and I talk a lot about above and below the line behavior, just like you guys talk about at school. It really makes a difference and I just wanted you to know. Thank you Mrs. Prati for being the right principal for this school. And, thank you to your staff. They work so hard and I appreciate them. I know that every time I call your school, I’m going to have a pleasant experience.
After she said all she had wanted to I thanked her and I said, “You have no idea how much I needed to hear that today.” To which she replied, “we need to lift each other up”
Honestly, I think I’m still stunned. And, as I’ve processed our conversation, I truly believe this is a case of you getting what you give. I hope you have all noticed our focus on gratitude this year. I believe that I received this phone call because of our focus on the practice of gratitude. Gratitude is a practice, it’s something we have to work at every day. It was really nice to be on the receiving end of gratitude from this parent. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.
If I have to be at work for 12+ hours, there is no place I’d rather be than with all of you. I had the pleasure of being in lots of conferences with many of you. I am beyond amazed at your level of professionalism and your commitment to serving our students and their families.
I almost forgot that we started our Wednesday with a Site Visit in which educators from as far away as Michigan and as close as Upper Arlington came to see the amazing things you do each day. I love Site Visits because they force me to slow down and think about our practice, our purpose and the systems we have in place. After Wednesday’s visit Jim, Lisa, Jeff, Tasha and I were trying to figure out a better way to explain to people how we have arrived at where we are right now. Jim said it best, “it comes down to our culture.”
Everything we achieve has to do the fact the our arrows are aligned, we know our why, we do the work, we don’t complain, we are disciplined and we are a team. Like I said in my post from last week, we root for each other and we support each other. I saw that time and time again on Wednesday. From the Site Visit at 9:15 am to Parent Teacher Conferences that ended at 8:15 pm Jim’s realization was proven over and over again.
So, thank you! Thank you for making a 12+ hour work day so enjoyable!
Coyte Cooper is the author of Make Your Mark. He is one of my favorite authors and an all-around amazing person!
As I reflect on this awesome week, this quote from Coyte kept coming to my mind:
“Most people avoid being uncomfortable at all costs. If you want to be successful, seek out opportunities outside your comfort zone daily and attack them.”
We certainly attacked our opportunities this week. Many of you were observed by your colleagues and almost everyone got to observe a colleague. You opened your classrooms and your minds to others so we could all learn and grow. Whether you were observed or got to observe someone, you had to be vulnerable. You had to pick something that you wanted to learn more about and share it with your colleagues and then you went out and attacked it. The conversations we had during our debriefs were inspiring. You were present in your moment, you were reflective, you asked thought provoking questions, you got feedback on your practice and willingly shared ideas about and asked questions about things you plan to do in your classrooms.
We are better today than yesterday because of the work we did together this week. That’s what the journey to ELITE is about. As usual, I could not be more proud to lead this group of amazing educators!
One of the best parts of my job is getting a chance to be part of every team in this building. Over the past three weeks I’ve been part of data teams at every grade level as well as our EL and Title Data Teams. I love getting to see how you all interact with one another, build on each others strengths and problem solve together.
On Thursday, Alicia and I had the opportunity to share our data team process at the Administrator Meeting at CO. For one of our slides I made a list of the things that make our data teams successful. As I reflected on our process and added to the list, I realized that one thing that makes us ELITE is that WE ROOT FOR EACH OTHER.
I have worked in many different schools and I’ve noticed that often times there is a sense of competition. This underlying tone of “I have to be better than you” is never outwardly stated but can be felt within the culture of the building. The beauty of our school is that we share freely and we want to see each other succeed. We have fully embraced the idea that we rise to the level of those around us. Through our data team conversations over the past few weeks I saw us all rise. We pushed our thinking. We decided to try new things. We are even relying on one another as we plan who we want to observe during JW Grows. This is what it means to root for each other! I am so proud to be part of this team.