Jon and I are dreamers…

When I think about life, I think there are distinctive moments that shape the direction of where one heads.  Moments where life feels like it becomes a “choose your own adventure” story.  If you choose this, turn to page 34 of your life…choose the other option, turn page 46.  Just like in those stories, some choices lead to success and some lead to disastrous outcomes!choose-your-own-adventure_a-G-12831960-13198931

During a couple of weeks in February 2016, my choose your adventure set the stage to change my life as a principal.  If you recall from my last blog post, I was on a journey with the staff at my former school to create a culture of thinking throughout our entire school.  We had developed a deep-rooted conviction that this culture would support learning that inspired our students…support them to go beyond the answers…to change the narrative of the education so many of us experienced growing up.

Leading up to February 16, 2016, our district had been publicizing the showing of an educational film to our community called Most Likely to Succeed.  mltsI had not heard of the film and was going back and forth on whether to attend as my previous week had been super busy.  Knowing my superintendent had been pretty excited about it, I thought it would be a good idea to attend.  Reflecting on that decision, I truly believe that moment set in motion a series of actions and decisions that got me to where I am today…

“This is it!”  “This is what school CAN be.” I remember vividly thinking those things as I watched the film that night.  I saw the natural evolution of cultures of thinking playing out at a school in San Diego.  I was enthralled…amazed…inspired. The next day at school, I kept thinking how we could do those things?  It was overwhelming, though-provoking, and exciting.  It was all I could think about!

I still remember the moment.  It was around 9:30p.m. the day after we watched Most Likely to Succeed.  I was sitting at my kitchen table working on my dissertation proposal (which I was defending in less than a month).  I remember which chair I was sitting in…which direction I was facing…it was like it was yesterday.  Then my phone rang…

Answering it…I heard, “Hey David, got a minute?”  The call was from Jon Gregory, principal at Forest Hills Northern High School.  Jon and I had gotten to know each other during my first couple of years in the district and we both shared aspirations for making school a better experience for students.  We had attended some events such as Ism’s Day at Quicken Loans, where we would find ourselves talking about “What if?” in thinking about the education of our students.

Jon was probably even more excited about what we had watched the night before!  In fact, he had already been on the website of the school featured in the movie, High Tech High.  Hardly able to contain his excitement, he said there was a conference coming up called the Deeper Learning Conference and it was held at High Tech High.  He let me know he had already emailed our superintendent about going and said I should do the same…

I couldn’t contain my excitement.  I started typing away the email to our superintendent, Dan Behm…

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Writing this blog caused me to go back and search for this email.  Written almost two years ago, I had not looked at or read this email since sending it.  The words I wrote in this email seem almost surreal…”Jon and I are dreamers of what FHPS can be.”

At the time of writing this email, I was principal of a 5th/6th grade school in a different attendance area than the high school where Jon was the principal.  However, after reading this email, it seems like my move to become principal of the middle school that feeds into Jon’s high school was meant to be…I just didn’t realize it at the time.  Isn’t it interesting how things work out? Anyways…

Jon and I were so fortunate that we worked in a district that was excited about this type of innovation and we were given the green light to attend.  Our school district’s education foundation helped to make this happen in supporting with the necessary finances.  The month leading up to our trip to High Tech High is a blur in my memory.  I remember the constant exchange of phone calls, the sharing of ideas through emails, the meetings to prepare for the trip to change our lives.

Our lives are full of moments.  With the gift of time, we are able to look back at our moments…the one’s that help to define us and our contributions to an idea…to a movement.  As I write this today, I think back to the moment in deciding to attend the showing of Most Likely to Succeed.  That moment started a chain reaction in my own choose your own adventure story that is continuing to this day with one of my best friends in education.

I can’t wait to tell you what happened next!






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