Are you cut out to serve?
October 6, 2017
Every interaction we have with someone has an impact that resonates far beyond that particular moment of conversation or action. Sometimes, we can see the ways our words or behaviors have affected someone. Other times, we may never know the subtle or substantial ways a small kindness, a reprimand, or a directive affects the receiver. This is no less true — and perhaps even more critical — in a school environment. How we interact with people during the day, whether it’s administrator to teacher, teacher to student, or colleague to colleague, affects what goes on with those people long after the dismissal bell rings.
As a leader of a school community, I strive to ensure that the ways I lead and the ways I serve become fodder for positive feelings, conversations, and interactions later.
James C. Hinter, in his book, The World’s Most Powerful Leadership Principle: How to Become a Servant Leader, does a nice job of articulating the responsibilities of a leader. And, for the record, a leader does not have to be assigned a title, or have a powerful position. A leader is someone who influences others. A good leader takes it one step further and is someone who carefully, thoughtfully, and morally influences others.
Rosalynn Carter said, “A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” Isn’t that great! We do this with our own children — lead them gently to their fullest potential. At Forest Ridge School District 142 we have created a system wherein we lead our employees in this manner too. Sure, we could lead with power, but we have made the purposeful choice to lead with authority. We positively influence our employees, and in turn, they positively influence each other and the children they teach. We all know that students learn better from people they like. And, if given the right support and accountability structure, people work harder, longer, and more thoughtfully for and alongside people they like and respect.
We are building a school system that will stand the test of time, remain relevant for our students, and be a community asset. And we do so with service ever in mind and the knowledge that what and how we do and say has a profound and long lasting effect on those around us. It is not a responsibility we take lightly. This is our collective community and we offer your children no less than what we would want for our own. We are gently (and systematically) leading future generations — with impacts that will go beyond the dinner table. This is an inclusionary school system, where there is a place for everyone to participate in the privilege of serving students.
Thank you for being a partner in life’s most important role… educating our children to be the leaders of tomorrow.