Last year, I watched in amazement as leaders exposed the powerful opportunities that are derived when schools provide outlets for students to pursue their passions. The movement in passion projects has been fueled through the work of leaders like Girish Venkat, Founder & CEO of Thrively, and Angela Maiers, Founder of Choose2Matter, to provide a structured focus for students to explore, extend, and deepen their passions. But, why should our students have all the fun?
Last week, I shared a blog post addressing my reply when asked how my previous school year went. With just five words replying to the question of how my year went, I have received smiles, positive feedback, and curious questions that initiated conversations - "I'm Just Getting Warmed Up!"
As I continue to plan and prepare for next year with the many initiatives, strategies, and action plans to address student achievement, school culture/climate, safety, and leadership, I wondered why the students should have all the fun in having passion projects. Why can't adults have passion projects, too?
With a mixture of concentrated effort and luck have provided me with three of my own passion projects for the upcoming year that I am certain are going to energize me, uplift me, and get me out of bed racing to school every day!
Although they will definitely impact the students, district, and community, these passion projects build on my interest areas and opportunities for me to move our district goals as well as connect with students, staff, and our community. When I'm asked what gets me motivated for next year, I share "OUR" three passion projects - OUR Team, OUR Students, and OUR Community.
In my role, I oversee the middle and high school administrators. I work with a great team of leaders who are passionate about students and continuous improvement. In the midst of the work in implementing our district goals, I see the need to continue building our team. With my previous leadership background, I am implementing initiatives to build our team. This summer, we are conducting an optional book study (creating face-to-face opportunities along with a closed Voxer group) using Zoul, Whitaker, and Casas's book, What Connected Educators Do Differently. As a team-building facilitator for various groups in the past, I plan on incorporating various challenges and activities with our team next year. Last week, our team successfully completed the task of getting the team through "The Web" without disturbing the spider! The point of the exercise was to build trust and accomplish a task as one team. The debrief included a lot of rich conversations about the transferable take-aways to how our daily work and the need for communication, planning, trust, and commitment for the team to be successful!
We are also instituting a theme for our team - Super Together! Not only are we “Stronger Together”, but we can be Super Together! Next year, we will continue to build our team and have a theme of “Super Together”, where we will have some fun choosing a superhero that best defines us and then creatively build our team as superheroes all next year! Before just quickly selecting a favorite Super Hero, they were asked to think deeply about the qualities of that Hero and what makes them Super - they will be sharing their hero at our first Fall Secondary Administrators meeting on why they chose that hero! The goal is to continue building our team and having fun with activities and celebrations with this theme throughout the year!
When I first got in to education, I was sold at the tagline, "You don't teach the subject; I teach the student." I love being around students - their energy and enthusiasm is fantasic! Connecting with students is a treasure for me, and I love any chance to engage and work with them. Moving to a central office position, it has been hard to connect with a core group of students to develop deep relationships and keep myself rejuvenated, as well as grounded on why I do what I do.
I also have a passion and interest for global education. This past year, I led our district investigating a Global Scholars Diploma Program hosted by the Columbus Council of World Affairs. Since it aligns well with our district mission and focus, we will offer this program to our students this fall. As I was looking for someone to volunteer in leading this effort, I quickly realized my chance at not only leading this effort in developing global persectives for our students, but also have a chance to connect with my own group of students! Not only will I be planning and preparing for the major events and delivery of the content to our students, but I plan on helping to facilitate, chaperone, lead, support, and encourage students through the program!
This is where the luck comes in. I grew up in a household that believs strongly in community service. In my first district, I was a true part of the community. I grew up in that community and worked there for over 10 years. So, I volunteered for a number of organizations and served on a number of boards and committess. I earned great fulfillment to use my time, talents, and treasurers in a community capacity by helping with charity drives, planning for events, and attending events.
With only one year completed at Worthington City Schools, I was asked to serve on the Board of Directors for the Worthington Resource Pantry. I am honored and humbled for this opportunity. It will be a great chance to help our students and families at a deeper level and be more of a part of the community. I am looking forward to the opportunity to provide leadership, serve, and coordinate efforts in any way that not only meets the mission of the Resource Pantry but also fulfills my desire in giving back!
WHAT'S YOUR PASSION PROJECT?
In the midst of closing out a school year, trying to sneak away for much-needed vacation, catch up on a few books and home projects, and preparing for next year, have you paused to select your passion project? Is there something you are looking forward to next year? As I shared my projects with my colleagues last week, it spurred on great conversations as they reflected and brainstormed theirs. Feel free to use the comments section below to share yours in hopes of helping others find theirs.