Why Start a School?

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I have been asked the question “Why did you start a school?” numerous times this year. Recently, after 17 years in the field of education, I found myself in a disappointing place: somewhere between the dreaming and the coming true. After graduating from Kenyon College with a degree in psychology, I had landed in a most unexpected place: my first full time position was in a kindergarten classroom of children with all sorts of strengths and challenges … Luckily we were all provided with the greatest possible resource – a master teacher from whom to learn. It was during that eye- and heart-opening experience that I discovered my passion for teaching. The following summer, I jumped head first into a Master’s program at Bank Street College with exciting dreams of inspiring learners and forever changing lives.

Teaching is much harder than I understood (or imagined) when I began this journey. At times I have struggled to remain optimistic about the transformative power of schools and teachers. I have watched helplessly as students fall through the cracks. My heart fills with disappointment as a talented teacher leaves the profession disillusioned. Each educational environment in which I have worked brought varying degrees of disappointment by the distance between “what could be” and “what is.” At the same time, each of these settings has also provided inspiration for me to ruminate on in my search for an environment in which I, as an educator, and my students could flourish.  So, after much prodding and encouragement from those who love and support me, I took another leap towards the larger dream of inspiring learners and forever changing lives. I, with the help of many others, have started a school. This adventure is allowing me, my students, and my colleagues to get back to a critically important part of learning – the dreaming, and hopefully, ultimately, the joy of the coming true.

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