Wednesday, November 25, 2015

The Power of Movement

As a leader, I find myself constantly moving. Actually, it probably has nothing to do with being a leader, I think it's more about who I am as a person.

"You're always on the go, Amy."
"Are you ever home?"
"When do you stop?"
"I was going to call you, but I figured you were off doing something fun."
"I cannot keep up with you! Don't you get tired?"

These are common questions and comments that I hear on a fairly regular basis. Moving. It is a part of who I am, and for me, it's the only way I know how to function. I love being on the go, surrounded by people who fuel me, and sharing positive energy with others.

I've spent the last three days at Skywalker Ranch participating in an incredible learning opportunity with 80 other administrators. CUE Rockstar Admin. Holy cow - what a journey.

Move Alone. 

Some attendees are here with a team, and others appeared to be lone rangers until they quickly made new friends. For me, I'm getting to live the best of both worlds. One of my closest principal friends, @chaugen, who I "principal" with in Petaluma is on faculty at Rockstar, but for the majority of the time, I've been able to float around as a lone ranger. I'm rarely alone, so this has allowed me to really quiet myself, reflect more than usual, and realize the power of movement.

Moving Closer to Leaders Who Make Me Better

Todd Sandwich! YES! 
@PrincipalUMS & @tsschmidty 

Although I had to beg these two for a "Todd Sandwich" picture, I can't get enough of being in the presence of leaders who make me better. Just knowing that we're all in this together, despite the fact that we rarely get the chance to spend time together, is rejuvenating. The little bits of wisdom, the new ideas, the reminder that we're making strides in the right direction because it's "good for kids" is more than enough to fill my bucket. Besides the dynamic faculty at Rockstar, the small but mighty list of attendees is also an incredibly talented and passionate group of educators.

Move Out of Comfort Zones

In each of the 7 sessions I've attended, the lead learner has expected me to move out of my comfort zone. In fact, sometimes we were even told explicitly, "All I care about is that you do something out of your comfort zone." In thinking about this, although it can feel uncomfortable for a few moments, I think it's SO critical that as educators we constantly force ourselves to feel this level of discomfort. We do it to our students ALL the time. We expect them to learn something new, try something hard, persevere, and too often as educators, I don't think we acknowledge how hard that can feel.
Me w/ Brian BriggsLisa DeLapo, & Catina Haugen 
Stop Moving

Yep, I would bet money on the fact that most of us should probably do this more often. Even me. It's been fun to watch so many of my busy friends find little corners in random rooms, sit down, and just soak up the scenery here at Big Rock Ranch. Being "on the go" doesn't always serve me well if I don't take the time to stop from time to time and reflect. A goal for myself after this experience will be to stop moving from time to time and reflect on my practice.
View from a boat ride a group of us took after the 
event to soak it all in.
My Fav: Moving for Fun! 

Enter Jennifer Kloczko! Oh my goodness, girl! On Saturday, Jen showed up to inspire us all and set the tone for day 3. Let me just say that she ROCKED it. Literally. With her stereo on wheels in tow, her disco ball attached to the top, and a super fun movement activity from Go Noodle, Jen had the whole theater of educators (except for Todd Feinberg - lame!) dancing, smiling, and singing! What a great reminder that movement is all around us. 

Alone. Together. In new places. Just for fun. Movement: it's powerful.

My Sparkle Sis, @jkloczko. xo 
One of my new fav principal friends, Tracey Allen!

Fav tweet from the event: 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

We're Really Not That Techy

*** This post is co-written with Adam Welcome, Elementary Principal at Montair Elementary!

It’s inevitable, between both of us, we probably hear it on a weekly basis.

Someone is passing out a big binder to everyone in the group. - “Sorry about the binder and all the paper, we know you’re techy.” (Who can't carry a binder around all day, we need something that’s accessible from our phone during the day) 

Document camera won’t project during back to school professional development. - “Adam/Amy can probably help, they’re techy.” (Check the power cord and VGI cable, start problem solving) 

Other Principals or Directors - “What’s that Twitter thing you do, I should do that, but you’re techy. I’m just not there yet. Can you help me set it up?” - Two weeks later you see that person at a meeting, you’re looking at your phone and they chuckle as they ask. - “Are you Tweeting?” (We’re connecting our school with the world to develop awesome learning experiences for them!) 

Most of the time, we brush it off. Smile. Laugh. Turn our head the other way. But every now and then, when the stars are aligned just right, those words, “Oh that’s right, you’re techy”..... they almost rub us the wrong way. In fact, lately, we can’t help but wonder if people are really picking up what we’re putting down.

Do you know which group of people never call us techy? The kids! Why? Because this is the world they know, and it’s not about the tech, it’s about mindset and being relevant.

Here's a glimpse into their world, it's OUR world as well!


Kids are techy. Kids are relevant. Kids speak the language. Kids see the possibilities. 

They want us to be! They need us to be! They deserve us to be! It’s the world they live in and whether we like it or not, it’s the world WE live in too! 

Instead of calling us “techy”, we really wish people would just call us RELEVANT! We didn’t know how to do all these things either when we got started. But we saw a need, a way to connect, a reason to learn, and we took action. 

- Embedding a Google Calendar on your school website - just copy/paste the code from Google, no big deal. 
- A Twitter account for your school to tell your story, all you need to do is create an account and start Tweeting! See all the magic that can happen. 
- Creating podcasts with students, choose from a plethora of app options in iTunes and just start recording. 
- Troubleshooting a projector or TV with an issue - pick up the remote and start problem solving! 
- Just last week in a Foundation meeting we were talking about our fundraising goal for the year. How about a thermometer on our website to show our status and what we need to achieve? All you do is Google ‘fundraising thermometer widget’ and with two easy clicks and typing our financial goals, it’s ready to embed! This doesn’t mean I’m techy, it means I know how to search, that’s a relevant skill all people should have! 

- Working on collaborative docs with other administrators and teachers to streamline communication, just create one! 
- Responding to student blogs so they see there is an engaged and connected audience, just search #comments4kids and get to responding! 
- Handing your smartphone or device over to students so they can teach you new things, be vulnerable! 
- Need to create a space to share documents with a parent group, a Google Drive folder that’s open to everyone. Our 3rd-5th graders know how to do that, so should you! If you don’t, go to Google Drive Help, there’s a short video to teach you how. 

- Watching a YouTube video on how to make a form to use during walkthroughs in order to provide meaningful and timely feedback...ready, set, go! 
- Add some ideas here please! 

We owe it to our students to be relevant with the means by which they learn and can connect. When we were kids in school, it was a different game. It’s time that leaders and teachers start making a shift in order to make sure they’re ready to play. 

Learn the skills and get in the game. You can’t coach your team from the locker room, get on the ground floor. Get engaged. Get your hands dirty. Speak a new language. Take some risks. Feel uncomfortable and push yourself. 

Our kids deserve us to be on top of relevant ideas. The parents in our communities should expect us to be! Our colleagues we work with should be a sponge for what we’re trying to do, rather than a source of pushback or negative comments. 

The next time you hear someone say, “You’re techy.” Be observant. Is that person really being techy? Or perhaps just relevant? 

Don’t speak the chalkboard language of eras past and be this guy, it won’t end up well for your students and you won't have as much fun!


Adam and me at the NAESP conference in Long Beach, CA this summer!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Communication & Leadership?! Be #Fearless

This past Wednesday, our school had our annual Back to School BBQ at the local community park. What an incredible event! Our PTA and Penn Staff must have fed at least 350 people over the course of two hours. After working the "family photo booth" and a 13 hour work day, I made my way back to my office to clean up a few things. About that time, I received a text from one of my teachers letting me know that she needed to skip out of our professional development a little early on Friday due to a Taylor Swift concert she was attending with a couple friends.

Now, I know, that I had a choice in that moment. I could have said, "Sounds fun! Be sure to report your absence in our new sub system, Aesop." Or I probably could have said, "Oh wow, you're going to miss out on so much. Hopefully your team can catch you up but that's a real bummer that you have to take personal necessity time." However, that's not what I said at all. In fact, lucky for you, Ms. J gave me permission to share our text thread. My initial response was, "What?! You're just now figuring this out?! Well, have fun! :) Thanks for coming to part of the day!"

For reading ease: Ms. J is in grey, I'm in blue. And in case you're not a Taylor Swift fan (shame on you), every word with a # in front of it, is the name of a T. Swift song.

And that's how I roll. Although I thoroughly enjoyed this fun banter with Ms. J and was totally laughing out loud to myself at 9pm as I Googled "names of Taylor Swift songs", this text exchange really got me thinking on the drive home. If you're not a principal who recognizes the value in being human, having fun, laughing, playing with your staff, and having a little flexibility for crying out loud, what happens when the really hard work comes? How do you handle the challenging moments that test you and shake you to your core? When you need a favor? When you're late. When you drop the ball on something, because you will. What happens when you have to execute a difficult conversation? Who does your staff turn to when they need a hug? A laugh? A cry? Where do they go for advice? Who has the power to encourage, motivate, inspire and build up? 

There are a LOT of things I don't get right as a principal. But I can tell you that I will always work my hardest to maintain the types of relationships I have with Ms. J, the type of relationship I strive to have with each one of my incredible colleagues at @PennPanthers.

Do you have to text with a teacher late at night in hashtags and Taylor Swift songs? No. Should you try it? Maybe. Do you need to be #fearless in your communication and leadership? Yes. Definitely. Absolutely. 

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Weekend Reflection

The following post was shared with the staff @pennpanthers as a part of the Week at a Glance I send out on Sundays full of nuts and bolts, important dates & reminders. However, it felt worthy of sharing with a wider audience as we gear up for a new school year. My hope for all of us in 2015-16 is to maintain a sense of gratitude and pride for the work we do, each and every day. Our students need us.

A weekend reflection...

This weekend I was privileged enough to attend the B'not Mitzvah (Bat Mitzvah for twins) for Emma Lauter, a student who was in my 2nd grade class 6 years ago. When Emma's mom emailed me a couple months ago to remind me that I hadn't RSVP'd yet, she informed me that each of her girls only invited one teacher, and Emma had chosen ME! You can imagine my excitement and of course I said yes right away. Lucky for me, Emma's twin sister, Abby, also invited her 2nd grade teacher, Jan Bishop. Some of you have probably met Jan but she and I taught 2nd grade on the same team for three years before I came to Penngrove. Jan is one of those teaching partners who makes you want to be a better teacher and person. She was always sharing, always asking great questions, always giving me suggestions on how to improve, and always impressed me with the way she knew her students SO well. Almost TOO well to the point where during some lunch time breaks, I would temporarily zone out while she updated me on everyone's latest fluency score or big breakthrough in class. Jan was the teacher who taught science to my students because she knew I couldn't stand silkworms, and she was the one who offered to plan and execute all of our million field trips with tenacity and grace when I was new to the area and had no clue what I was doing. Seriously, this woman was (and still is!) amazing.

As Jan and I giggled in our seats and waved hello to former students, the B'not Mitzvah began. Emma and Abby's mom (Jen) started off the service with a warm welcome and introduction to the crowd of 100. As Jen continued on, I couldn't help but reflect on the year she had faced when the girls were in 2nd grade. Breast cancer invaded the lives of their family, and with strength and bravery, Jen battled and won that horrid disease while Jan and I worked our butts off to make sure things didn't fall apart for the girls at school or at home. Just as any of you would do. And here we were, 6 years later, celebrating these beautiful girls, and watching a healthy Jen laugh and cry about the journey of her daughters' childhood. Jen referenced 2nd grade several times in her speech which made me feel proud and excited, and then she did something that totally took my breath away. Jen shared with the crowd, a very specific quote that Jan had said when they first met right before the school year started. In reference to a recent trip the family had taken, Jan said, "Wow, you and your husband are weaving such an intricate and beautiful tapestry of life experiences together for your girls. What a gift." It wasn't so much the quote that stood out to me as I sat there with tears in my eyes, but it was the fact that 6 years later, this beautiful mother was sharing with 100 people, a quote that her child's teacher had shared roughly 2,190 days earlier. 

Perhaps Jan remembers that conversation with Jen, perhaps she has no recollection, but what resonated with me is the depth at which students and families remember the things that we say, the facial expressions we display, the gentle touches we give, and always, the way we make them feel in our presence. 

This year, may we keep those things at the forefront of our minds in all we do, each and every day. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Bursting. Overwhelmed. Full.


That moment when you get in the car and are so excited to unbutton your jeans because you're just bursting at the seam. I mean, that's never happened to me before but I've heard that every now and then it's possible. I imagine that when my friend Curt Rees wears his jean shorts from the 80s, he feels that way frequently. Back to bursting - HOLY COW! Over the past week, my mind is absolutely bursting at the seam! Things are overflowing all over the place. Phone messages are stacking up, lists of student names to follow up with spill onto every surface of my office, kindergarten registration paperwork pours in by the dozen, a "to do" list that should be laminated, big dreams that need to be pursued. 

Everything just feels to be bursting right now. Bursting.


That moment when I say to myself, "I wish I had a secretary" and realize that, "Oh wait, I do!" but there is MORE work than even the two of us can do together. (Not to mention that she has been out for over a week with a minor medical issue and I realize how MUCH I need her!) Overwhelmed with big things. Our 1:1 deployment, new active learning environments and 21st century furniture, teachers changing grade levels, hiring, my desire to be everywhere for every one 24/7 and knowing that I can't. 

Honestly, that's a big one for me. I remember two weeks ago sitting on the swing talking with a 5th grader who needed a little extra TLC. I was trying to give her my full attention but the demands were pouring in on my phone which I totally ignored.

"So and so really needs to see you."

"A construction truck is blocking the parking entrance, can you go talk to them?"

"Bryan grabbed Hilary's hair...again."

"Mrs. Jameson wants you to swing by for a quick technology question. When should I tell her you'll be there?"

In those moments, I'm already hard enough on myself. Wondering how I can possibly do it all. Wanting SO badly to be there for everyone at the perfect moment. Taking a deep breath when I realize that I simply cannot meet all of the expectations, especially my own.  And then a hard conversation with a parent. "I haven't seen you much lately. What's your vision and mission for the school in the coming year?" I'm fairly certain that the sound of my breath leaving my body was audible. I can't imagine how I haven't been seen! Or perhaps it's because I'm quietly reading with a 4th grader outside on a bench, hiding in a supply closet to answer an important email, or hugging a teacher as she shares a personal challenge. 

Who knows. Overwhelmed.


Despite the real struggles I share above, there's a feeling that overcomes both the "bursting" and the "overwhelmed." That feeling is "full." Full of admiration for the dedication our staff pours out on our students daily. Full of respect for parents who take the time to question things like mission and vision, and point out things that may be difficult to hear. Full of complete humility that I have the opportunity to hug and support so many people in my profession. Full of new ideas and intentional reflection thanks to the Lead 3 Conference I attended last week. Full of amazing things to look forward to in the coming days, weeks, and months. Full of laughter thanks to friends who keep me on my toes and check on me constantly. Full of a consuming love that is a result of the people I do this work alongside. A love that won't loosen its grip on me because when I'm bursting, when I'm overwhelmed, my guard comes down just a little more. I find myself full. And being full trumps bursting and overwhelmed any day. 

Full. I'll take it.   

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Just a Saturday Morning

Usually, weekends are packed at the Fadeji household. Travels, friends, meetings, errands, left over work from the week, church stuff, laundry, and of course my least fav: the dreaded Costco run. However, it's only 10:43am and I'm already loving the mellow feel of this April 11/12 weekend! I feel like I've been on a marathon streak for the past couple months and somehow, accidentally I'm sure, this weekend is pretty open. 

This morning, as I played on Twitter, I saw a quote by Marc & Angel that stood out to me. "The best gift you can give someone you love is the purity of your full attention. Do so today." Sometimes (often) I can use a big reality check with that one. I'm sure I'm not alone in realizing that one of my greatest strengths is often times my greatest weakness as well. I am SO drawn to people, so in awe of the inspiring and wonderful things my friends and loved ones are a part of, so in need of constant connection, and always looking to the next thing where I can drench myself in all of the above. It sometimes take me a Saturday morning at home, alone with a huge laundry pile and a sink full of dishes to just stop and slow down.

Last night I had the pleasure of meeting up in the city (or San Fran as Curt Rees likes to call it) with friends. We laughed, ate way too much food, and enjoyed the gorgeous night. We even got to show Rafranz Davis the SF Bay and look up the definition of a bay for her. (my definition was WAY off!) Friday night with Ashley, Karl, Elana, and Rafranz was a great way to end a long week.  

"Where is the cheese?" asks Rafranz. 
"What exactly is a bay?" Great Q!
Great dinner crew at Patxi's SF

Techlandia in the house!
(SIDE NOTE: Who knows how to help me w/ the formatting of pictures in Blogger?!  Are you kidding me?! This looks awful and I've played with it for like 30 minutes!)

As I shift into the groove of Saturday morning, I am reflecting on what a calm quiet morning looks like for me:
  • An early wake-up call to GHO with Joe Sanfelippo and a group of aspiring administrators in Wisconsin. #gocrickets #fadejibonus
  • A chat with my mom and dad who just wanted to check in. And side note: SO funny. I was telling my parents how I'll be in Chico (where they live) in September joining educators and the EdTech Team for a GAFE Summit. My mom of course was asking if she needs to buy a ticket to come hear me speak and then my dad chimes in with, "I've heard you talk for the past 31 years, but I never thought I would have to PAY for it." Good point Dad. I'll sneak you in the back door.
  • A few loads of laundry and a ton of dishes.
  • Catching up on Voxer, especially listening to my #LeadWild crew, a group of that motivates me daily in all that I do.
  • Texting with a few close friends - some encouragement given, some advice needed, some "just because I'm thinking of you" moments...
  • A 20 minute phone call with one of my teachers who helped me sort through some thoughts and shifts for the 15-16 school year. 
  • Planning with a group of friends for our afternoon hike/walk later today thanks to their persistence on an early birthday celebration.
This is quiet for me. This is my version of peaceful. Relaxation at it's best. 

In just a bit, I'll be packing a cooler, hopping in the car, and heading to Tennessee Valley with the hubs and a group of friends. It's a gorgeous day, this walk is absolutely breathtaking and at the end, the Pacific Ocean is just waiting for you! While I'm there, I plan to remember what I read earlier from Marc & Angel. "The best gift you can give someone you love is the purity of your full attention. Do so today."

There you have it, just a Saturday morning. 

Friday, March 27, 2015

Old Places. New Faces. Forever Spaces.

I have this ridiculous addiction to people and places that somehow translates to the fact that on each of my school “breaks” I spend at least a few days traipsing around school campuses causing a raucous.  (I had to look that word up to make sure I spelled it right. Yes! That’s it! Synonyms: wild, noisy, rowdy, unruly, boisterous)

Yesterday, I visited Hidden Valley Elementary School in San Anselmo, CA. I used to teach at Hidden Valley “back in the day” when it was called Brookside Upper. It’s a gorgeous campus tucked in the quaintest of neighborhoods and spread out over a lovely rolling hill.  On this particular school visit, I wasn’t alone, as two of my closest teaching friends, Ashley and Ashley (yep, “the Ashleys”) were just as excited to visit this old place we poured our lives into together for years. 

A number of things struck me on this visit.  The campus looked wonderful. Colorful benches, brightly painted doors, smiling staff members, a knock your socks off kinda dress on the principal (a definite must) and the memories that came flooding back with each turn of a corner.  Despite the upgrades, the changes, and the tons of new faces, there was something different about this visit, and those forever spaces.

There they were. The table where I sat and cried with one of my students as he had a complete meltdown. The tree where another student stood for about 30 minutes because I forgot I sent him outside to take a “quick break”. Room 21 where I went for my daily laugh, vent, and inspiration. The top of the cabinets in the staff room  - cluttered with bowls and trays – I must have reorganized and sorted that stuff at least 10 times.  The music room turned classroom where I used to hide out with my students and our 5th grade buddies when we needed a change of scenery.  The scent of the office bathrooms – yes, the same orange mist air freshener! Old Places. New Faces. Forever Spaces.

It’s been almost three years since I stepped out of Room 22 as a 2nd grade teacher and into my office at Penngrove as an elementary principal. A little quick math will clue you into the fact that the current 5th graders at Hidden Valley are also the group that was my last class of 2nd graders.  Knowing this would be the final time I could cause a huge raucous on campus, I took full advantage.  Thank God Mr. Brandt was only doing agendas with his class because when the Ashleys and I walked in – oh boy!

“Mrs. Fadeji!!!!!!!!!!” 
“Oh my gosh, I forgot what you looked like!”
“Are you coming back to teach here?!”
“Do you remember when…”

I went around the room and greeted each of my past students one by one. I wanted so badly to pick each of them up in my arms, swing them around, and tell them they still mattered to me.  But in fear of making the others feel neglected, worrying that Mr. Brandt would kick me out momentarily, or the honest truth which was that I worried I might totally lose my composure, I opted for some side hugs, ruffled hair, and back rubs.  I didn’t leave Mr. Brandt’s room without making sure we sang happy birthday to Jimmy (he glared at me the whole time), reminding Jake and his entire class of the nickname I gave him: Jakey Poo, and of course, numerous photo ops. 

I swung by the other two 5th grade classrooms a little more politely and made sure all my students knew I would do my very best to make it to their 5th grade promotion in June.  The highlight of the stop in Mrs. Leader’s room was that I was a little nervous to pop in, in the first place. I respect Mrs. Leader immensely and think she is a wonderful teacher. However, she isn’t exactly the “let me just pop in and totally destroy your class for 5 minutes” type. So I quietly opened the door and was relieved that there were only about 7 kids in the room finishing up a test. Mrs. Leader had a student at her desk asking a question and when I saw that it was Ava, I knew I was doomed.

In all my years of teaching, Ava was one of the most enthusiastic students I have ever had the pleasure of teaching. Emotion, laughter, and drama, just pour out of her being! I love this child to the ends of the earth and back. And there was Ava, in all her glory. I wish I had it on film. Ava stopped listening to Mrs. Leader completely (ehhhhhh cringing inside) and declared at the TOP of her voice:  “OH MY GOSH! ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?  I THINK I AM HALUCIATING! THIS CANNOT BE REAL! I HAVE DEFINITELY LOST MY MIND! I’M SEEING A VISION OF MRS. FADEJI STANDING IN OUR CLASSROOM! BEST. DAY. EVER!” After a huge hug, I made sure Ava finished her conversation with Mrs. Leader (who kindly notified me that Ava needed to finish a test), snapped a selfie or two w/ my little drama queen and scurried out of the room. 

Whew! What a visit. What an emotional roller coaster. Of course I loved chatting with some of my favorite old colleagues, spending time at Teresa’s desk, chatting with Tim (the rockin’ custodian) ,and just being at Hidden Valley. But the one thing that will stay with me always was the love that I felt for old places, new faces, forever spaces. 

Sunday, February 8, 2015

The Night Ms. J Rapped #gamechanger

You learn a lot from attending your own school's talent show. I live and breathe my elementary school principal life. Sometimes, it can be overwhelming. At times, I feel like the demands of the job are crushing and nearly impossible for any one person to excel in all aspects of the role. But most days...most days are wonderful. Those days are full of sweet students, a love for learning, passionate educators, sacrificial parents, and little moments of beauty all weaved together. However, every now and then, a day, night, or moment comes along that simply takes my breath away. I'm not trying to be dramatic, or captivate you with my intro. I'm being completely serious. I live for those days, for those moments, where I have to remind myself to take my next breath because my senses are just so completely overwhelmed with joy, love, and happiness, that I don't even know where to turn.

Enter the Penngrove Talent Show 2015. With 27 incredible acts, our Talent Show was full of singing, dancing, roller skating, instrument playing, etc.! Unfortunately, I had to miss most of the first half due to the elaborate costumes that one of our teachers ever so creatively invented for the surprise staff act.  It took our 11 staff members who participated, about 30 minutes to get dressed. We don't mess around @pennpanthers. When the music started, our stage was transformed into a scene right out of Frozen. Yep, that's right, we danced and sang to "Let It Go" because, well frankly, we're cool like that. Just THIS moment alone was exciting! It was the end result of many hours of planning and practice from people who showed up early to school, gave up their lunch breaks, and stayed late in the afternoons to practice our groovy moves. And we're adults for crying out loud! Imagine the time, effort and energy that went into EACH of the 27 acts we boasted. It's just incredible. In case you're wondering, our Frozen act was a hit, and I'm sure there is still some silly string in my hair but you can watch for yourselves here and be sure to fast forward to 0:55 because the intro is long. If you ever need to hire a consultant for your staff talent show act, Mrs. Sposato is the woman to ask!

As I watched the second half of the show, I noticed that each time a new student or group of children took the stage, I had this crazy intense feeling of being nervous and SO proud all at once. I'm not a parent yet (although I field this question weekly) but after knowing most of these kids for a couple of years, I certainly got a taste of what it probably feels like to be a proud mom. At one point, when a couple of 2nd grade girls were singing, I leaned over to our office manager and said, "We really do have the best jobs ever." 

Up until this point of the night, I felt things were pretty magical. The community vibe was at an all time high. I didn't have my program handy (a 5 year old was sitting on my feet which I loved and I didn't want to move her to see what act we were on) but I had no idea we were nearing the end of the show. Two of the most beautiful 6th grade girls you'll ever meet, Greer and Lily, were dancing and singing to Taylor Swift's "Shake it Off" and then there was a pause....

And then a voice....WHAT?!  Out from the wings comes Ms. J (one of our 6th grade teachers), straight up RAPPING to T. Swift with her students by her side. And it gets better!  Out come ALL of the 6th grade girls dressed in matching adorable tutus, accompanied by our other rockstar 6th grade teacher, Mrs. Newman, and the lucky emcee of the night, Kieran. (yes, the only boy on the stage with all this girl power) At this point, Ms. J said she saw me stand up and start cheering but I have no memory of doing so. It was THAT moment. That moment when I can't breathe. I was caught up in being SO impressed with Ms. J's rapping skills, so moved by the look on Greer and Lily's faces that their teacher was performing with them, and EVERYTHING that dance stood for, that I was overwhelmed beyond explanation. Teamwork. Compassion. Relationships. Fun. Respect. Empathy. Kindness. Inclusion. Family. Laughter. Community. Celebration. Excitement. Honor. Admiration. Love.

What Ms. J and Mrs. Newman did tonight with their students just happened to be an outward example of the things so many teachers at Penngrove and other schools around the world do on a daily basis. It looks different for each educator. For some, it's that quiet touch, the long hug, the modification of an assignment, a call home, a special "job", the thoughtful planning of an activity, the moving of a seat. But tonight...tonight at Penngrove Elementary's Talent Show, it was the night Ms. J Rapped and let me tell you, it was a #gamechanger. Tonight I was reminded that if I look hard enough when I get back to school on Tuesday, I'll find a school full of people who know what it means to Give. Risk. Learn. Trust. 

* A HUGE thank you to three very special parents who made this talent show not only possible but amazing: Kelly J., Renee D-C, and Paul K. And to Mrs. Sposato who made our staff act so off the hook, you're a real gem! #glitter And to our videographer, you are the best YouTube uploader ever! #itwasnteventuesday

Ms. J gets DOWN with her students! 

Staff Act - Let It Go! #beststaffever