“Shoot for the Moon”
As I traveled the halls of Parkside Elementary School in my astronaut flight suit, I paused at a bulletin board that fit with my “mission” theme. It said, “Shoot for the moon. If you miss, at least you’ll land among the stars.” The teachers at Parkside are clearly encouraging their students to “dream big.” As educators, we understand the power of teaching our students to have high aspirations. However, today I want to remind teachers that they supply the motivational fuel that propels their students toward future success. Parkside’s teachers clearly know how to motivate. Every class I entered was filled with engaged learners working diligently to create a lifetime of opportunities. However, I also found myself reflecting on the special role this place had on my own life mission. You see, Parkside Elementary School is where my teaching journey began.
19 years ago, I was hired to be the media center instructional assistant at Parkside. Walking into the media center reminded me of the lessons I developed, many years ago, to instill a love of reading in the children at Parkside. Realistically, I now understand that as a “just graduated” 22- year-old teacher, I was actually learning more than I was teaching. I am glad I spent time listening to and watching veteran teachers at Parkside who knew how inspire their students. They taught me how to teach, but they also showed me how to motivate students to greatness. You can imagine my emotions last week when I finally had the opportunity to honor many of those veteran teachers for impacting my life. I loved every moment I spent in their rooms, but the blessings didn’t stop there. As I entered the classrooms of the teachers who came to Parkside after I had already moved on, I immediately sensed that they had the same ability to inspire their students. These teachers help the children in their rooms envision a future life filled with meaningful accomplishments.
One of the final classes I visited surprised me by turning the tables on my objectives. I enter every school determined to remind the teachers of the significance of their work. I make it clear that I am there to celebrate the work of my fellow educators; these days are not about me. However, this particular class insisted on presenting an award to me, and for a few moments, they made me feel like a star. Isn’t it interesting that the very people we intend to inspire actually end up motivating us? As my day drew to a close, I realized that I came to Parkside to honor these incredible educators, but in the end, they, once again, touched me.
Many years ago, Parkside’s staff inspired me to be the best teacher possible. I still haven’t arrived because I have so much more to learn. Yet, in the process, I do believe I’ve landed among the stars. After all, this year, I get to spend my days among the brightest of them all – the teachers of Indiana.
Parkside Elementary School, keep shining brightly, and thank you for launching me on my own “shoot for the moon” mission. Today, I celebrate your commitment to fueling the fires that will propel the next generation into a future that illuminates the universe.
“Envisioning the Future”