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Lead from the Start: One person can make a difference

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One person can make a difference

If there is one thing I have learned so far in my policy class it is, "One person, in the right place, at the right time, can make a huge difference."
The man who steered the mutinous ship of VA's educational reform through the Standards of Learning storm of the late 90's and early 2000's spoke to our class last night. Kirk Schroder is an amazing person. He took on the position of Chairman of the Board of Education in 1998, inheriting a mess of an accountability reform and he made it work. He shared a great deal of wisdom and knowledge during our brief two hour conversation and boy oh boy did he know his stuff.
The key idea I want to internalize is he took the approach to education that a teacher takes to their class. He figured out what behavior he wanted the "student" (the educational system) to take on and he figured out an incentive to get the student there. Explained in those terms I don't feel so far away from where I could be if I want to make a real difference for children and teachers.
What scares me the most about leaving the classroom to enter leadership is that my effectiveness at bringing about change in children's lives would be diluted.
When I am in the classroom, I know that everyday I am making a positive impact on a child and or a family. I had a parent conference with a parent today whose son is extremely intelligent but emotionally immature. (for a 4 yr old) I know that she left that meeting knowing that 1) I cared very much for her son 2) I valued her and her concern for her son 3) I saw what a great kid her son is 4) We are going to work together to make her son a better student 5) I believed in him and her. When she left we were even closer than we had been before. It is so simple when it is real people.

I wonder if there is a policy that I could come up with that would make the same impact?


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