I became a mother almost 24 years ago. As my son entered the world, my first glimpses of him were seeing him struggle to seize life.
As the years went on, my son was diagnosed with a hearing impairment and then cerebral palsy. His courage in taking those first breaths continued and empowered him to achieve each arduous milestone well into grade school.
Along the way, all I ever wanted from any educator was to champion the extraordinary potential that lives within my son. My commitment to inclusion was born on this journey.
Soon after, my daughter was born. She walked at nine months and ran at 10. Her developmental journey looked radically different. Her boldness is only surpassed by her kindness.
Now, I have a bonus baby girl, almost 10. My two daughters went to Kindergarten and University on the same day. With that claim to fame, needless to say, I have a long mommy journey.
My personal experiences shape my identity as a teacher, and now as an educational leader and consultant. They weave into my heart the DNA of my educational philosophy.
My professional Learn Forward journey began almost 15 years ago when I launched into school leadership and ideally set my sights on creating a world-class, model school. Over time, Learn Forward became a love note to our community at Willowstone Academy and focused on nourishing the sacred work of teachers and parents.
We created a new educational model. In the process, we cultivated growth mindsets, along with transforming into an inclusive learning community. Additionally, the journey was a training ground in leadership development, team management, intense collaboration, innovative pedagogy, fiscal responsibility, sustainability, and strategic leadership. We quintupled our budget, tripled our enrollment, developed three new departments, championed a team of high calibre educators and administrators, and rebranded, launching a dynamic online platform to effectively share our story.
We successfully created a sustainable, inclusive, and adaptable learning community that currently serves as many marginalized children as privileged, with diverse ethnicities, socio-economic strata, and religious affiliations represented. These achievements were realized through the dedication of our high-performance team who delivers in a creative and results-oriented ethos. Most importantly, this team is motivated and committed to serving students first.
Now, Learn Forward sits right at the corner of “why isn’t school reform working” and “how to create innovative and adaptable schools for the 21st Century.” It’s urgent, as our current students now will usher in the 22nd Century and live through one of the greatest eras of change human history has ever seen.
Our purpose is to share our learning with education more broadly. As an expert practitioner, I believe all schools can cultivate a culture of change-readiness, learning to adapt, while always certain of ‘what matters most.’ This can be your story.
Change is the one constant we can expect in education. We’ve been slow to change in schools and reforms fail more than they succeed. If we don’t design dynamic learning communities, how will we ever be prepared for students to thrive amidst the Age of Acceleration? To fail is to fail our children.
Education can change, from the grassroots up. How? Together. School-by-school. At the Table of Learning. We will include parents, students, and teachers on our journey. Then, education will become an adaptable, contextually relevant 21st Century institution remarkably adept at unfolding the extraordinary potential that lives within every child.