2016 Was a Great Year


2016 was a great year!

There, I said it.  Likely one of the least popular statements I’ve made in a blog, but there it is.  I refuse to give 2016 over to the Dark Side.

Don’t get me wrong,  I understand the desire for a fresh start.  It has not been an easy 12 months.  Loss, grief, change, and what can only be described as a tumultuous year for our country has left many people sad, angry, adrift.  I have found myself there at times as well this year.   It has been a challenging year.

I felt the loss of Carrie Fisher and then Debbie Reynolds in the last week.  I’m a child of the 80s, the Star Wars Generation.  Last week was rough.  It was like a final blow to our culture when we were already down.  And yes, I laughed as hard as anyone when I saw the Facebook post about the GoFund Me account to keep Betty White safe from 2016.  Believe me, I understand the inclination to wish the year away.

But despite personal loss, despite disappointments, despite disillusionment, 2016 was a great year!

I started a new job.  It was the fulfillment of a lifetime of work.  I get to spend my days surrounded by amazing people doing important work for young people.

My daughter got married.  So many family and friends, those there and those there in spirit, made the entire experience a joy!  It was a day filled with overwhelming love.

But even if none of that had happened, 2016 would have been a great year!

Life is short.  Each and every day is a gift.  In 2016 the sun rose.  In 2016 the moon shone.  In 2016 babies were born and friendships were forged and memories were made.

Our children laughed and loved and learned new things.  Our flowers bloomed, and our gardens grew.  Talented people made music and art and dance and theatre.  Academics debated the real issues in our society and reached for greater understanding.  And strangers held doors open and offered helping hands and said “Good Morning” and “Have a nice day.”

It is in the small things that we make a life.  It is in the routine of a morning kiss before leaving for work or a text from your daughter when she’s thinking of you during the day that we find real joy.  2016 was full of these moments.

I am in no way trying to say that we do not have real, significant, difficult things to address in our world.  We do.  I am in no way saying that we should not strive for greater connections to each other, greater tolerance for each other, and greater acceptance of each other.  We should.

But I am saying that this life and this world is a gift!  This day, this week, this year is a gift!  Regardless of what 2017 brings, I will strive to remember that.

A Letter to My Daughter


Educators often think of graduation as the measure of our success.  It’s the moment we’ve been working for since that first day our students arrived at Kindergarten Round-up.

But I think we are wrong.  I think this week is actually that moment.  My social media feeds are full of pictures of teary-eyed parents and nervous young adults unpacking cars, hauling mini-fridges, and sporting new college gear.

I think the measure of our success really starts this week.  As our children head off to college, we get to find out if they are, in fact, “college and career ready”.

When we watch the seniors cross the stage at graduation, we hope that we have prepared them to be successful in whatever their next steps may be.  This week, as we send them off to Basic Trainings and Freshman Orientations, to first days at new jobs or to dorm rooms and apartments, we get to find out if we succeeded.

For you, my daughter, I think we did.

There are so many things I want for my kids.  Sometimes when I say “my kids”, I really mean my students.  But this week, I am talking about you and your sister.

So what do I hope for you?

I hope you are creative and collaborative.

I hope you are willing to take risks.

I hope you persevere when things get hard because there will be times when things get hard.

Mostly though, I hope you enjoy your life.

I want you to celebrate who you are and not devote time to comparing yourself to others.  Comparison is so often a source of frustration and disappointment.  It’s what we do to ourselves that makes us feel like less.  There will always be someone smarter, someone cuter, someone wealthier.  But there will never be another you.  The only person you ever need to compare yourself to is the you from the day before.

Reflect.  Learn.  Grow.

I want you to avoid judging other people.  That’s what we do that makes others feel like less.  There are few things you can be that are more important than being kind.  “We are how we treat each other and nothing more.” (Alternate Routes)

Content matters.  It’s important that you can write well and that you can make meaning of what you read.  You have number sense, and you understand our history.  All of that matters.  But without the rest of it, without the life skills, you would not be able to become who I know you are destined to be.

I am so proud of who you are right now.  I always have been.  I always will be.  I have faith that you are college and career ready. I am grateful for all of the teachers and administrators and family members and friends who helped shape you.  But mostly this week I am just grateful for you.

This is a hard week for all of us who are sending our babies off to college…maybe harder than when we started you on this journey in kindergarten.  But it is also a celebration.  This week we measure our success!