I have been so blessed in my life in education. At the end of this school year, I will have completed 36 years in this business. Boy, when you write it down, it looks like a really big number. This past week, I attended the Iowa 1:1 State Conference in Des Moines. I think it was the best of the three so far. Many good sessions covering many good topics. The best part though? It was lunch.
There was a group of us that walked downtown to a restaurant. Within this group was Russ Goerend (@russgoerend), an impressive young teacher from Waukee who is doing amazing things in his classes; Andy Crozier (@acrozier22) and his wife, Julie, in his first year as a superintendent in Andrew and Google ninja; Matt Townsley (@mctownsley), the School Improvement Director at Solon who continually pushes the envelope with Standards Based Assessment and Reporting (SBAR) and is a state leader in that movement; Brian Abeling (@wdmTECH), the Director of Technology at West Des Moines, one of the largest districts in the state and the one in which my daughter has taught for seven years in the Family and Consumer Science department; and my old administrative team from Okoboji; High School Principal Brian Downing (@downing413), Middle School Principal Ryan Cunningham (@rcunningham78), Elementary Principal Rob Olsen (@rolsen88) and Director of Technology Chris Koink (@koinker), all great leaders in their own rights. If you are on Twitter and do not follow these people, you are missing out.
The impressive thing about this group is that they are all young. I realize that the term “young” is relative but I could almost guarantee that they are all at or under the age of 40. As I sat and listened to stories being passed around, questions and answers concerning school, school improvement and how technology can help in the process, I thought to myself that I was witnessing the passing of the torch. Me and my generation of educational leaders are giving way to this next generation of people who are just as passionate about teaching and learning as anybody. This group “gets it.” They know what good teaching is and how it relates to preparing today’s students for success.
With all the confusion in Iowa about school reform, school start dates, funding, waivers, etc., I feel very comfortable that the leaders of our schools, the eight educators I had lunch with, will do an exemplary job for the continuation of great education in our state. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t really matter when school starts, whether there are waivers or not, what matters is what is happening in the classrooms across the state. We, at Pleasantville, continue to make strides in the classroom and we will continue to work hard to make our school the best it can be, improving on a daily basis.
Yes, the torch may be in the process of being passed from one generation to the next in terms of school leadership, but rest assured Iowa, education in this state is, and will continue to be, in good hands.