Caroline in the Delta

Closing the Teach For America Blogging Gap
Mar 05 2013


“The majority of people won’t go where they’re uncomfortable.” – Dr. Gunter

Today was our first day of Professional Development in San Antonio. The trip started yesterday (but feels like it started weeks ago). Our flight was at noon: three TFA-ers (which would become four when the last completed the marathon she ran in the morning) and two Arkansas Tech faculty members, the facilitators of our trip.

In 24 hours I already feel a lot has been clarified: my faith in the purpose and potential of this program; what “LEAD21″ really means (the name of our program under the grant from the Walton Foundation); how much of a privilege it really is to be here.

We were greeted off the plane by the sweetest HR girl with a sign, who promptly walked us to the limo that would take us to the hotel. I’m not kidding. We arrived, threw our stuff down, and met up with all the principals (including my Assistant Principal AKA boss). We heard their introductions and introduced ourselves. I had the pleasure of being the least experienced and youngest person in the room. When it was my turn to introduce myself the cliche “heart like a hammer” had a meaning I feel only once every few years. The administrators we shared the room with are supposedly some of the strongest in the state, with diverse experience and schools. One guy is originally from Michigan, like me! His advice was, “You will always, always be a yankee.” He moved to Arkansas in seventh grade.


Sometimes my brain really has to fight to keep this blog from getting personal. I do wish I could explain all on my mind, but I’m keeping it professional.

In short, today was a day that was very well presented, well-considered, and left all of us feeling like valued, important, promising humans with tons of potential. I feel like I really can do this. I can lead a school in the Delta. I can and want to and will work as hard as I can because I care about the community and I care about the kids.

Or, that’s how I feel when in the room with five people that are huzzah-ing that with me.

I do believe it. And I want it. But. Like anything else, the number one hold up is a four letter word: fear.

I’ve been toying with this for a while. Since I read some Buddhist-inspired life coach written guide-lines for finding out what you want from your life. Any life coach will probably ask you what you would do if money and other easily-stated-as-not-important things were no object. If fear wasn’t part of the picture.

Today part of me was really thinking that school leadership would be it. I still believe it. Deep in my tiny core I believe I want to do it. And I believe I want to do it young. But there is a big, well actually it’s all of me, piece that says well actually, Caroline, that’s ridiculous. Not only are you not going to do that, but it’s not really possible considering the political climate and lack of experience you live in. Yep. Not possible.

But what if it was? Or what if I made it possible?

The people closest to me tell me I don’t fit in Dumas. Tell me I’m not cut out to stay here. But … why? Because they’ve never seen it done, and because they don’t expect it to happen, and because it never has happened. Why start now? Start now because I want it to start now. Start now because I am making it start now. Start now because somewhere two and a half years ago I started a path that put me in a place to think that this might be possible. To think that I might be able to love hard enough for people to give me a chance. To work hard enough to maybe acquire the skills I need to be a benefit more than a risk to my district.

Any potential for leadership in my district, or any district in the Delta, obviously will take time (not to mention I have to finish my masters and a position has to open), but I’ve got to get over this fear and realize that no one is going to believe me or support me until I act on the things I’ve learned and feel.

I try to hide how much I love inspirational quotes, but one hanging right beside my front door is from my fellow Motor City native, Henry Ford: You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.

People won’t start validating me until I do something worth validating. I’ve heard (and preached myself) the value of stepping out of your comfort zone and into the place where you make things happen. Well. Now’s the time to start making things happen.

And it’s going to take quite a bit of discomfort to start.

One Response

  1. Dude

    If practiced everyday, the struggle for excellence gets easier and easier. Compromises will be made, corners will be cut but a true champion’s determination will never be drained.

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