We can't become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” ~ Oprah Winfrey

Envision with me an exceptional, highly innovative place, beautifully rich with motivating materials, where enjoyment and enthusiasm have become contagious and the question “what if?” guides every discussion. This is my vision of a great school.

In this place prepared projects are the standard, real-world perspectives, and authentic audiences are driving up the attentiveness level, connections are being made to everything we know about the world, and great expectations are serving as powerful encouragements.

All who enter - students, parents, staff, and community members- are working, learning, and applauding each other. The environment is harmless, thoughtful, understanding, and caring. Everyone senses “we” are accountable for helping each other overcome whatever obstacles to learning “we” may encounter. Determination and hard work are rewarded, mistakes are viewed as learning opportunities, and works-in-progress receive ongoing monitoring and constructive feedback. Above all, there is a shared belief that “natural born” talent is not required for success. Instead, everyone has a “growth” mindset and works to build resiliency.

To me, this kind of learning environment is like a brilliant work of art and my vision of it shapes my leadership philosophy. I believe that creating such a work of art is not only within the realm of possibility; it is a goal that can be reached through a cooperative creative process. In my mind, learning is a never-ending journey that is best experienced with others. I welcome students, teachers, parents, and community partners to join me in this learning journey. We will need to take turns sharing what we know, examining possibilities, cheering each other on, pointing out different viewpoints, and holding up a mirror for reflection. Our mutual expectations of each other should include a shared commitment to excellence.

I believe that the art of education requires a “you can do it” attitude. Innovative minds know that constraints and limitations are often the mother of discovery and hard work, perseverance and determination can overcome many obstacles. I am both an artist and an educator. Artists, like educators, study the techniques of the great masters, learn from their experiences and mistakes, and practice their most successful “research-based” methods. In a world that is continuously changing, innovation and creativeness are required. As we work together to bring our ideas to the table, we must view them with an open mind, believe the glass is half full, seeing learning “distinctions” instead of “disabilities,” and add the word “yet” to the end of all “can’t” statements. In our communications with each other, shared respect must be the standard and great importance must be placed on showing that we care.

As in the design of all artistic expressions, starting with the end in mind cultivates our purpose. It improves our focus on what our learning community should look like, feel like, and sound like. When designing for the success of all students, what is best for all students must dominate the decision-making process and frame everything we think, say, and do.

Student achievement must always be the focal point.