I had, for the first time, just started to brag that I had been led by the same principal for the last 9 years. This, for any urban teacher, especially in Chicago Public Schools, is like finding a unicorn. My first school had two principals in the four years I worked there, and, as I left, it was getting a new one who would later, in Chicago style, embezzle school funds and prioritize the interior design of her office over students and teachers. As a teacher, it is hard to find a leader you would follow into the fire. So when I found one…I knew it was special
For the first 5 years, I would always get nervous when a new opportunity arose that he would leave to take it, but like any lasting relationship, my anxiety had grown quiet over the last few years. Yet, he is talented beyond measure (though he’s not perfect, he owns his imperfections) and it was only a matter of time until he felt less challenged leading the staff of strong-willed teacher leaders he had selected and got an offer at a level that matched his influence and suited his skill set. I am happy for him and proud of him. He is the kind of person we need making the bigger decisions for the district.
I can’t spend too much time thinking about my sadness or hurt about the way the news was delivered. There is a school full of incredible young people who, at least for a moment, may see such losses as rejection. They need their teachers more than ever and we need them as well. We all need to be sad together. We all need to talk through our hurt together. We all need to see that by leaning on each other, we can make it through the pain and be stronger for it.