Friday, August 08, 2014

Inspired by a 4th Grader - Take a Risk

Today we had convocation at Liberty Public Schools. This is my 13th year in the district and Liberty always does a great job of getting everyone together and starting off the school year right.  We are a growing district and today we had around 1,200 district employees gather at Liberty North High School for a combination of presentations by administrators, board members and plaques provided for employees celebrating milestone years of service with the district - 5, 10, 15, 20, 25 years, etc. There is plenty of music and energy pumping through the gym.

We started the program with a 4th grader in the district - Gabrielle Frierson from Lewis and Clark Elementary - singing the national anthem.  Pretty daunting task for anyone but I can't even imagine doing it as 4th grader in front of a packed gym.  She started to sing and you could have heard a pin drop.  She was awesome and you could tell right away. After about 15 seconds you could hear people throughout the crowd softly saying "wow" as she sang.

Picture by Susan Maynor :
Gabrielle got to a portion of the anthem, about three quarters of the way through, where she swung for the fences and tried to a hit a note that most of us couldn't reach with a ladder.  I don't know Gabrielle but I image she was probably pushing herself to the limit, going for it all.  She has probably hit it a thousand times but today it kind of missed the mark.  It could have been deflating.  It could have been disappointing. What happened next was the thing I will remember the most from her performance.

She laughed it off and smiled. No problem.

When she laughed it off everyone in the stands followed her lead. Over a thousand teachers, administrators, staff members - started to clap.  She laughed it off with everyone and then started right where she left off. She never missed a beat or a word. She cooly rocked the rest of the anthem.  She received a long standing ovation and everyone there will remember the day she sang the anthem at convocation for a long, long time.

As a district a lot of us are taking some chances this year.  The middle schools and upper elementary grades are going 1:1.  We have many new district administrators, including superintendent Dr. Jeremy Tucker. We are opening a new elementary school with a focus on maker spaces and innovative strategies.  Lots of changes.  Lots of opportunities.  We could play it safe, stay in our comfort zone.  But we also have an amazing opportunity to put ourselves out there and try to stretch it out a little.  Get uncomfortable. Take a risk and know that we might make a mistake, in fact we probably will make a mistake at some point if we take these risks.

Gabrielle took a risk to push the envelope a little.  It didn't turn out exactly as she hoped but she didn't let it get her down.  Everyone in the gym got behind her and she moved on, and finished strong.  I left the convocation ready to start the school year and I hope I have the guts this year to take Gabby's lead when things don't go exactly as I had hoped and finish it half as well as she did today.

Thanks Gabrielle.  You inspired me to take more risks this year and how to react when things don't go exactly as I had planned.

No comments:

Post a Comment