Dear School Leader: Please Hang On (Part 2)
Dear School Leader,
They say it takes a village to raise a child. But more importantly, it takes a community to educate a child. And you are at the helm.
With fifty-five percent of teachers planning to leave the profession sooner than expected, staff shortages are becoming more dire. We see you stepping in as substitute teachers. We see you doing whatever it takes to give students a quality education. We see you. Your commitment to our youth—our future—broadens their horizons. Helping children discover not only who they are but who they can be.
In Part 1, New Leaders alumni—principals, district leaders, assistant principals—shared what keeps them motivated to move forward during times of great difficulty. And they aren’t done yet.
Read our alumni recount what called them to the profession. What keeps them coming back. We hope these motivational words evoke a deep remembering within you. We hope they give you the strength to hang on.
“Remaining strong and moving forward is anchored by the zest to impact the future. So many individuals have been deposited into my life and career who will never know their contribution. Our students need exemplary leaders! That is the reason for persevering through the tough times.”
Shalanda Saulsberry, Vice Principal, Memphis, TN
“[What motivates me] is a tangible impact directly connected to student achievement and success.”
Raymond Fields, Executive Director, Philadelphia, PA
“Students arrive every day filled with energy. A second grader told me yesterday that her favorite part of school is ‘everything!’ Students love being with one another, learning in community.“
Susan Kilbane, Principal, Bainbridge Island, WA
“In this current landscape, with challenges from attacks on equity and anti-racism to fighting about COVID procedures to the shortage of teachers, it is important to remember [my] why. This work is tough, but the joy and hope I see in our students is my motivation. My enthusiasm for human connection and possibility thinking keep me going.”
Maggie Olson, Director of Equity & Instruction, Greendale, WI
“Each day, I am motivated to stay strong and move forward because of the children I serve. The daily interactions of greeting students in the morning, having check in conversations, and seeing and celebrating their successes focuses me. I return each day for the children.”
Crystal Watts Peterson, Principal, Memphis TN
“The children and teachers keep me motivated to stay strong and move forward. No one asked for the educational landscape to be what it is right now. However, by remaining steadfast, I can lead, support, build up, celebrate, and continue moving forward with students and staff. If not for myself, for the children—always.”
Christine Hurley, Assistant Principal, Chicago IL
“At the end of the day, I became an educator to empower students, strengthen families, and build strong communities. We face challenges daily in all aspects of life, but as long as I keep my focus on the end goal and the steps to get there, I do not grow weary in my fight.”
Lisa M. Smith-Sherrod, Program Director, New Leaders, Pikesville, MD
“What motivates and keeps me moving forward is wanting to make a difference in the lives of others through equity outreach and creating a coaching and mentoring model for instructors.”
Frances Barnett Evins, Assistant Principal, Chicago, IL
“There is so much work to be done. I feel honored to be invited to the table to join in the conversation on how to best serve our students. The need is great.”
Lucy Matos, Bilingual Adjunct Trainer, New Leaders, New York City, NY
We see you, School Leader. And we stand with you.
Thank you for all that you do.