Over the Mountains and Through the Woods

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The rain in Cullowhee has been relentless. Despite the dreary weather, I am encouraged by the amazing educators surrounding me this week. Whenever I have a work function to attend, I am never sure if the experience will be educational and enlightening, or uncomfortable and even awkward. In many occupations and professions, there is a high level of competition where colleagues try to one-up or out-do each other.

Although competition can be beneficial, I feel that when teachers can build on each other’s experiences and bring back best practices to the classroom and their schools, everyone benefits. The past few days have been a whirlwind of energy, ideas and insights that I am motivated by to continue to bring the best of what I have back to students.

We had a session that challenged us to reflect back on ourselves and our individual practices that revolved around our own personal brand. Our branding statement was to be descriptive and aspirational of what our interactions with others represent. A member of our Steering Committee, Mark Townley, a Kenan Fellow and one of my colleagues, guided us through this practice.

After much reflection and scribbling out of different adjectives and nouns, it clicked.  I especially want to reflect every action as encouraging curiosity with intention. Every day and every minute and every second has a purpose. Without curious minds, how does innovation begin? My personal mission is to encourage students to lean into that five-year-old mind and ask, “Why?” or “How?”

Living an intentional life is the core of what I desire. I hope that as the days of summer pass and as we continue our journey back over the mountain and through the woods, I’ll strive to bring the same fire back into the classroom.

“Every man and woman is born into the world to do something unique and something distinctive and if he or she does not do it, it will never be done.”  – Benjamin E. Mays