This month's podcast was inspired by Simon Sinek’s book, which is the focus of his Ted Talk "Start with Why" Sinek tells us to "start with the WHY." In the days leading up to the opening of school, I asked all the faculty and staff to consider our WHY--our personal WHYs and WHY TLS. After a couple of days working in classrooms and meeting with grade levels and divisions, we came back together, and I shared my WHY.
This podcast is a portion of what I shared during our faculty meeting. It is my personal WHY. It includes some history on how my WHY evolved and why it is important to me.
The reason "WHY" matters: in answering what seems to be a simple question, we can discover our core values as individuals and as an institution. In listening to our own WHYs, we better understand the value proposition of the organization we make whole, and together we can focus on fulfilling that shared mission. It's a thoughtful way to start off a new year.
In conjunction, we put together a video of faculty as they contemplate and discuss their personal and TLS WHYs. It's pretty powerful stuff if you ask me.
So this is my why . The color picture in the bottom is me at 16. I'm the tall funky looking one. And um, and yes, I am on a backpacking trip and yes, I have on a collared shirt. What Mother lets their child leave the house looking that way? And I looked that way all through high school. Um , so in 1982, the socks! all the way up and I did that all the way through high school. So I grew up in Glasgow, Kentucky, which is a small town. I was one of four girls and we were a pretty close knit family and Glasgow's one of those magical places to grow up 10,000 kids, everybody or people, everybody knew you. You really couldn't get into much harm because someone would call your dad and say what you had done. It was a very protected environment and it was a cool place to be a kid. So I went to elementary and I went to middle school in Glasgow and for some crazy reason I decided that I should go off to boarding school. So, Una and my sister Deirdre decided we go to boarding school and we went to New York. So I arrived in New York in 1982 from Glasgow, Kentucky, small town kid, and I was overwhelmed. It was outside of New York City. I was overwhelmed on every level. Academically, I was not ready to run with these people. Socially, I was not ready to run with these people. And it was an eye opener. My roommate , um , my first year, I went home with her for the weekend and her sister was dating Eddie Murphy. My other roommate was model and did like Calvin Klein jeans. I mean, and this is what I was looking like, with this kind of clothes. So I was out of my league, it was nerve wracking, and I had zero confidence and I wanted to just fold, right. But I had some really incredible teachers and some of them are in this picture up at the top. That was a field hockey , um , kid versus faculty game that we plade. Two particular ones that I have not stayed in touch with, Ms. Green and Miss Gilroy scooped me up and they helped me gain some confidence in all areas that I had when I was in Glasgow but did not move to New York City. And so they were pretty powerful, influential people in my life during those years because they saw something that I wasn't seeing in myself at the time. And they helped me learn confidence. And I realized at that point that was a pretty powerful gift these teachers were giving me, and I don't remember one thing they taught me. I do remember Miss Gilroy gave me an F on my first paper. It was full of red marks and she called me in later and she said, there's more to you than this paper shows. And I'm like, no, I'm pretty sure that's it. I worked really hard. I don't think there's any more here. And I HAD. I had worked really hard on that paper and I got an F. But she continued to work with me and uh, Ms. Green was my advisor and she continued to help me socially figure out what I needed to do. I did lose the socks . She was like, now the socks have got to go. After my first year at boarding school, I started working in a s ummer camp in North Carolina and I was drawn to those kids who were kind of awkward and didn't really have it together and I would teach um , l ike canoing and rock climbing and stuff like that. That was the area that I was teaching. And what I f ound to be really exciting was helping other people gain confidence and helping other people see something deeper in themselves and they perceived in that particular moment, which is what drew me to middle school. Ca use i f you're go ing t o t alk about kids that are, you know, not very confident, middle school can be a pretty powerful age. So for me, the reason why that I love the work that I do and this space that we all have chosen to be part of is being able to help other people. It started off as little kids when I was a camp counselor and moved to sixth and 10th graders when I was teaching at Hammond School in Columbia, South Carolina. And as I've moved into administration and it moved to programs, right? How could I help someone see more of what they can give than what they are seeing at the time by themselves. So I think confidence is a pretty powerful gift because when you are confident and when you can be comfortable being uncomfortable then there's really, there's nothing that'll hold you back. And it's not the academic skills, those are all very important. But when you have confidence, you know that even though you fail, even though you get the paper with an F, even though things seem to be knocking you that, you know, that if you keep working at it, it's going to work out. So my WHY is helping other people become confident in who they are and helping other people see , um, see themselves through the lens that I would see them through. And the what and the how , you know, it really didn't matter. It used to be the how teaching rock climbing, and it was about how teaching grammar and then it was the how to-- the how really wasn't important. It was really the why .