I’m sorry for posting a little late this week. You see, I’ve been trying to figure out a way to clearly explain what I’m feeling. Although I am not rich, I have worked very hard to get to where I am in my career. I am successful because I am happy with what I do. I am the dream builder. Because I work in the inner city, I often stumble across students who broke their dreams during the war called “real life.” I simply help them recover what dreams they may have left, build upon those dreams, and open the window in order for hope, joy, and opportunity to enter. This is my purpose. However, I have never worked as hard as I did in order to remain in the same position. Now, I wish it to be known that the position that I am in is not small or insignificant in any way. In fact, it is quite the otherwise. What I mean is that I would like to grow in the same field that I have planted and plowed for so much of my life. Here’s the thing; it doesn’t matter how qualified, prepared, or effective I may be for positions of leadership. In the end, the final decision is made by someone that has to be comfortable with not my ability to lead successfully, but with me as a man. I find that very disheartening. You see, while I help my students build their dreams, secretly, I have been designing a few of my own. I am a school leader. I don’t believe that true leaders are appointed. In my opinion, true leaders are anointed. As it relates to education, I am anointed. I say that unapologetically. Nonetheless, it seems that in order for me to grow, I must grow small. What is growing small? Growing small, in my opinion, means remaining politically correct when it appears that the political policy is designed to keep the population of students that you serve disenfranchised, disillusioned, and blinded to their own potential. I have quite a bit to say. Yet, I can’t say it. In fact, the very writing of this post may have some of my colleagues and potential hiring panel members overlook my consideration. It doesn’t matter. This is my truth. As an African American man, I am unwilling to grow small in order for someone else to feel big. I am unwilling to remain silent in the face of clear injustice. I am unwilling to blame the population that I serve for their conditions without regard for how they arrived there. I am unwilling. Although the students that I serve are challenging, the challenges are worth it. I love them. They give me something to look forward to each morning, and I see joy in their eyes even when tears fall from them. How dare they smile. Yet, they always find a reason to. I am amazed by that. The students that I serve need help. They need support. These students need to believe that the world has room for them even though they don’t fully understand the world. The students that I serve are valiant warriors. To me, it seems that society is quick to judge them without ever experiencing or understanding the world from which they come. It’s a very different world for some. I understand that world. My desire is to lead a school of teachers and students that are legitimately dedicated to the success of the not only the school, but also the community. You see, where there are educated people, there are educated decisions. I believe that the conditions of the communities in which we live are a direct reflection of the results of the institutions of education in those communities. Education is the answer to many of the problems that our students face. However, for some, the conditions of the schools echo the sentiment that the students are unworthy of a fair chance at change. Some of the schools lack heat. Some of the schools lack air. Some of the schools lack books. Some of the schools lack paper. Yet, because the parents are often victims of their own communities, they are expected to not only accept, but appreciate what is being offered to their children. That is wrong. Furthermore, it seems that some of the leaders are more concerned with pleasing their school board members and “higher ups” than they are with ensuring that the students they serve are going to be successful. That is wrong. I will not become someone other than who I am in order to be what they want me to be. I expect to stand tall, keep my head up, and be proud of the man that I am. Judge me on my work and worth rather than my willingness to “go along to get along.” I will not go along, and we will not get along, as long as the scales of resources, support, and recognition are unbalanced. When I come home at the end of a long day, I want to be proud of the person that looks back at me in the mirror. I want to be someone that the younger me would be proud of. I want to show the students that I serve that you can make it despite your past. I made it despite mine. I cannot grow small. I am a giant. Patrick
This week, do something for someone else for no other reason than to make their lives better. As always, if you make it to where you’re going, please don’t forget to leave a map for the rest of us. Also, it seems that Hurricane Florence is going to cause quite a bit of damage. If possible, please find some room in your heart to help some of the people in need. The true gift is the ability to give, not receive. To those families in the path of the hurricane, please know that you are in my prayers and thoughts.