Growing up I had many different passions, but one I’ve been thinking about lately are POGs. If you are a child of the 90s than you know what I am talking about (if not, check out the very 90s commercial below). In elementary school, everyone was all about POGs. They were played during recess, before and after school, and everywhere else you could find a spot. We would carry around our PVC looking tubes full of them, always with the slammer on the top. I also had binders full of them. I have many memories of competing against others to win their POGs or slammers. There were quite a number of fights that broke out between students who thought someone was cheating. It actually got so bad that they banned them from my school. As I grew up I stored my POGs in our crawl space below our house because I was proud of them and wanted to save them; however, a flood in the crawl space took them one day, and that was a really sad day for me.

Growing up I didn’t know what I wanted to do and as mentioned in a previous post, I resisted going into education for quite a while. Trying to find my own path I took a number of different classes in college to see if I could find something that just clicked, but it seemed like it never did. I finally started looking into history education and started pursuing it. But after a talk with a district HR individual, I realized that there may be more openings for a business teacher than a history teacher. With that in mind, I went all in. I lost way more credits than I want to think about switching majors, but knew that business was the right decision for me.

Mainly because it all started young for me. I remember in 1st grade with Ms. Seamons that I would bring paper and pencils from my house and sell them to fellow students (can you believe there was a market for that). It was the dot matrix paper that you had to pull off the perforations on the sides. In 5th grade our teacher did “business” where we would run businesses one day a week (did we learn anything that year?) and I ran a root beer float store, the bank, and a game center. I remember that my dad had mentioned that I would be a great entrepreneur. Many years later that would be partly prophetic as I would become a business teacher that taught entrepreneurship.

So why all this talk about passions? In a book I read this year, Lead Like a Pirate, the two authors Shelley Burgess and Beth Houf share their passions when it comes to leadership in education.

Their passions are:

  • We are relentless about developing, maintaining, and sustaining positive cultures within our organizations.
  • We are passionate about instilling the belief that every educator has the power and the ability to help students —even the students whom others may have written off —accomplish amazing things!
  • We are passionate about developing a sense of collective efficacy.
  • We are passionate about the belief that it isn’t programs that teach kids —it’s teachers.
  • We are passionate about collaboration.
  • We are passionate about using the influence we have as leaders to inspire other leaders, adult learners, and teachers to do incredible work.

When I read this section from the book I started thinking about what I am passionate about. When I talk to people about my job I tell them that I feel so fortunate because I wake up excited to my job every single day. I have a job that is fulfilling and I feel makes a difference. If this is true for me, why is that the case? What about my job makes it so fulfilling and satisfying? What is it that makes me excited to wake up every day and go to work?

One thing that I tell people is that I enjoy solving problems (not the mathematical problems type though.) As a teacher, I more or less had control of my day. I would plan out my lessons (even if they didn’t always go as planned) and go on the journey with my classes. As an administrator though, there is a lot less control of the day. Many days I have a long list of to-dos on my desk but one issue after another walks through my door that needs my immediate attention. I have found though, that I really enjoy those days as they require you to think fast and solve problems rapidly.

I have experienced this quote firsthand. As I have found my passion for education and educational leadership I have felt that energy. When I have been able to focus on what I am passionate about the power has come with it.

So what specifically are my passions as an educator?

My passions are:

  1. I am passionate about being a champion for my students, teachers, and staff.
  2. I am passionate about expecting excellence.
  3. I am passionate about always carrying the banner for the school and education.
  4. I am passionate about being a merchant for hope.

I have these written on my board in my office, and just today a staff member commented, why are you relentless about your passions, but not about your goals. He asked because right below them I said that they were things I am passionate about. It was a great question and took me a second to formulate a response. Ultimately, it’s because my passions are what bring me back to work every single day. They are what I enjoy about my job. While my goals help me to become better.

I am passionate about being the champion for the underdog. Whether it is a student or staff member, I want to see them succeed. It is very rewarding and gratifying to see the successes, both small and big. Part of being that champion is expecting excellence from them. I find it a fine line to tread to make sure I am asking and getting enough from them, without putting them in a place where they cannot succeed.

I love talking about Herriman High and education. Education doesn’t always get the best publicity or comments (nor Herriman High for that matter), but being someone in the trenches day in and day out, I can tell you that we are doing some amazing things here. Things that anyone would make anyone proud. We moved our family into our boundaries and I did it without any hesitation. Knowing the school inside and out, I am completely confident and comfortable sending my kids to Herriman High School.

When there is hope, there is effort. No matter what has brought a student into my office, I want them leaving with the feeling that there is hope. That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequences for their choices, because there are. But there is always hope. There will be a tomorrow and they can get better.