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Our Future First

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If you follow me on TwitterInstagram, or Facebook, chances are you have seen my usage of #OurFutureFirst, but what does it mean? What and who does it apply to? Why am I using it when posting about political, global, and educational issues? What is the point?

I came up with the phrase “Our Future First” when discussing politics and life with my good friend and mentor Marlena Gross-Taylor. We were trying to create a slogan for a potential political campaign that would be inclusive while signalling our intent to focus on the future of our country and our world. I suggested these three words and we immediately knew that we had something.

Our

Looking at our political world, the words we see most often used to describe each other is “us” and “them”. On their own, these two words do not have significant power; however, they are typically joined with the preposition “versus”. This connecting word provides all the context and power needed, or not needed.

I have tried many times to understand this divide, but I cannot. Sure, we are all different. You have your beliefs and views about religion, government, education, economy, foreign policy, immigration, civil rights, and everything else while I have mine. Do our beliefs make us different people? Are we not biologically the same with slightly different personal perspectives?

Of course we are the same. We all want to feel loved, to provide for our families, and to have our slice of the American Dream. After all, as Americans we are afforded  the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

Then why do we allow this political world to divide us? Why do we identify as Democrat or Republican and let all the other common factors that unify us fall by the wayside? How do we climb out of the chasm that our government has thrown us in with this system?

We begin by recognizing that this is OUR country. We elect our representatives and they swear to represent OUR best interests. We fight for what is best for OUR future and accept nothing less.

Future

For some reason, there is never a lot of talk about the future at a political level. The focus typically centers on improving the present or short-term future. When our attention is on what is directly in front of us, we miss the bigger picture.

Everything that we do, must take our future into consideration. How will this decision impact the environment, the economy, national security, education, and other areas in the future? Will there be negative or possible consequences to these actions? How will we handle the results of our decisions and actions?

As educators, we work with the future every single day. There are few people who understand the future better than educators. Our daily interactions require us to drive their development into better people and leaders. We know that the future of this world is in the hands of our students and our task is to prepare them to lead us into that place.

This is not a task that we take lightly; rather, it is something that we take great pride and responsibility in. Without dedicated and passionate educators, the future of the world is incredibly bleak. We devote countless hours, resources, and energy to our students because we believe in their ability to grow. The more they grow and develop, the better chance our world has of growing and developing.

When we genuinely consider the effects of our decisions on the future, our youth, we can make more informed decisions. When we move away from temporary fixes to long-term solutions in favor of making our world a better place, everyone wins. After all, doing what is best for our kids almost always coincides with preserving and improving our future.

First

No matter what we do, it seems there is always something that we have to wait for. We have all heard it at one point. We come up with a great idea, present it to our boss or political representative and hear that it has to wait. For whatever reason, we are not being placed first and our ideas and thoughts are not the most important. That stops now.

In our current world, there is always something that stops progress from being at the forefront of discussion and decisions. It is now that we stand up and demand that our future be first. It is time we advocate for ourselves and our world before anything else.

This means that we come before lobbyists, special interest groups, big corporations, politicians focused on personal gain, and everything else. No more excuses.

Our Future First

This is a movement, not just a political campaign slogan. When dealing with the current political spectrum, this mantra will be at the forefront of our minds.

Over the next year and a half and after, this mentality will be my focus. I dedicate myself to forming connections and building relationships with people, despite their current political belief system. As Covey says, “Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood.” This is one of the most powerful tools, we as human beings, possess. We must actively listen to others, acknowledge their point of view, and learn from other perspectives to create meaningful change.

Forming a united front, with a strong, clear message is more critical than what our professions or backgrounds are. Please join the movement and share the hashtag across social media and beyond. Together, we will create real change. Together, we  have a voice. Together,  we will put Our Future First.

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Sean is currently an 8th grade science teacher and science department head at Camden Promise Middle School, which is a part of the Camden Charter School Network. The goal of the network is to give all children in Camden an equal opportunity to achieve their greatest potential, to raise awareness through educational policy, to expand resources, to build leadership, and support program capacity for the city of Camden. Prior to this, Sean spent 2 years serving as the principal of a private, out-of-district school for students with behavioral and emotional issues. Sean began his educational career by teaching middle school science for 6 years throughout New Jersey (in Hoboken, Camden, and Millville). 


Sean completed his undergraduate work at Rutgers University, where he majored in Communication, with a minor focus in Organizational Leadership. He attended graduate school at the University of Scranton, where he earned his MS in Educational Administration. 


In addition to being an educator, Sean has received a patent for a student-centered teacher feedback system. This approach takes the focus solely off of student output and examines student input. The process allows students to provide instant feedback on any one of several key aspects of a lesson. He is currently developing a plan to get this system in the hands of students as soon as possible. If you would like to collaborate with him on this, please reach out! 


When he is not focused on his professional endeavors, Sean loves to spend time with his wife, their two sons, and their two dogs. He enjoys running, mountain biking, training for and running Spartan Races, riding his motorcycle, and doing whatever he can to stay active and involved.

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Guest Thursday, 22 June 2017