Broken In

This week has been the most challenging yet since I began my new job as assistant superintendent in August.  In fact, it reminded me of my days back at All-American High, the ones where I faced constant interruptions and regularly encountered unexpected challenges.  That said, it’s not that there aren’t a number of challenging aspects to my new job; it’s just that the overall pace, if not the workload, is a bit calmer.  Except for this week.

I’ve mentioned in past posts that we have a consultant in this week.  Though our director of professional development does much of the work associated with his visit, the overall responsibility for his schedule and his time in the district falls to me.  The week has gone well, but my work with him requires me to be out of the office much of the day, leaving lots of work to be done after hours.  I worked late both last night and tonight, and I still have a great deal to get done tomorrow.

But the real issue this week has been a facilities crisis at one of our elementary schools.  I spent the morning working on contingency plans with the site administration as well as other district administrators.  The safety of kids is at stake here, and we’re making sure we do everything possible to keep our students well taken care of. 

While thinking through the options and considering the consequences of various decisions, my experiences as mother and as school administrator merged to help me support what I believe is the best option, though it was by far not the most convenient one.  It’s a case where I know that my status as the parent of an elementary student helped me make the right call for all the children, not just my own, a case where my attempt to “have it all” was not just beneficial to me but to others as well.

As a high school principal, I often got comments that went something like, “Well, heh, heh, heh, you sure don’t look like my high school principal did.”  Translation, “You are not a 50-year-old man, so I’m not sure how well you do your job.”  Interestingly enough, though I now have more responsibility, I don’t get that kind of reaction when I tell people that I’m an assistant superintendent.  They don’t seem thrown by the gender issue, though I do sometimes pick up on surprise regarding my age.  What’s comforting to me is that I know that the concerns on both of those fronts are unjustified.  If anything, those insights I bring as a woman and as a mother benefit my professional practice.

And, I get the added bonus of events like the one today during my visit with our consultant to the middle school.  The principal and I had ushered in our visitor to observe the teacher’s use of a smartboard and interactive student response system.  One of the students tapped her friend on the shoulder and mouthed, “Hey, your mom’s here.”  Swim Chick looked up from her quiz, spotted me, and waved heartily.  That’s high praise in the world of 8th graders.  And, at that moment, I knew, regardless of everything else that was hurtling at me, that today was a good day.

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