July and August are often where the winds of school leadership are in a state of flux. The pandemic weather pattern has meant countless changes in school leadership across the country. There were planned and accelerated retirements, fresh starts, and even some departures for careers outside of education. I am one of the many “pandemic leaders” who is now beginning a new journey in new schools.
Deciding to move was far from easy for me and my family. Some people wondered why we would leave a district when things were going so well on most fronts. As a family, we were “all-in” and cherished established friends and routines. The kids were in activities, clubs, and sports all of which enabled our family to truly be a part of the school community.
This brings me to a viewpoint or philosophy on leadership that is rooted in the belief that each leader plays a role or serves a specific need within an organization. This role is time-sensitive and evolves during one’s tenure. If you are lucky enough, you can have the rare gift of serving your role to completion. Then, you must have the humility to realize another leadership style could better meet the needs of the organization.
While this makes logical sense in my head, it is often far more challenging for my heart to comprehend. Being a leader requires giving your whole self to do it well. In other words, you must lead with your mind and heart. My family and I strive to become interwoven into the fabric of the school community. This makes the decision to seek new challenges exceptionally difficult for my family and can leave some community members wondering why or even feeling betrayed. I am reminded of one of the scenes from Walt Disney’s Mary Poppins (1964), where the children ask how long will their beloved nanny stay with the family. Mary Poppins lovingly responds, “I’ll stay until the wind changes.” I truly believe great leaders come into organizations and stay until they serve their purpose. Hopefully, we create lasting positive changes for the children of the community. When we leave it is often with a smile on our face, but sadness in our hearts.
But remember the rest of Bert’s introduction to Mary Poppins:
Winds in the east, mist coming in,
Like somethin’ is brewin’ and about to begin.
Can’t put me finger on what lies in store,
But I fear what’s to happen all happened before.
While change can be painful for everyone, it also signals a beginning, filled with hope, possibility, and opportunity. I can’t wait to see where the next leader takes my former school and, with the wind in my sails, I’m looking forward to the new challenges in my new schools.