Ten years ago on January 20, 1998 I walked through the doors of Chets Creek Elementary as a young and eager Kindergarten teacher ready to christen Room 108 along with my 32 "precious" Phillips' Frogs. I was in the middle of what had certainly been one of the hardest, if not the absolute hardest, years of my career. I had been surplussed from a great school that I loved and was heavily invested in and had the largest, most challenging group of students I had encountered thus far. When I used the word eager earlier - well that really meant scared. I was full of anticipation in regards to my new educational home. Would I fit in? Would the faculty be nice? How would this school run compared to my previous experiences? Would my new principal think I was any good?
I threw myself into the excitement of opening a brand new school. I put myself out there and seized any opportunity to be involved, be a part of what I quickly realized was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. I was given my first professional read, Improving Schools from Within, by Roland Barth. This text is the foundational piece on which the collegial environment of Chets was crafted. We met together as teams - vertical and horizontal. We wrote the first CCE diagnostic and screening students three times a year. We celebrated each others' successes. We embraced a revolutionary new program called America's Choice that served to do nothing short of completely transforming the way we approached teaching and learning. We started new rituals and traditions. We created a learning environment that we would want our own children to attend. We laughed, ate, cried, partied, fought and loved on each other. We became a family.
I have a heart for these children, for each and every one of you - for this most special place. This experience has changed me - it has helped to define my life's work. Little did I know that stepping through those doors that day would be a total life altering experience!
I am FOREVER changed.
Believing is just the beginning...