Validation…I Make a Difference!

It has been awhile since I have composed a blog.  I have no good reason why.  Yes, I have little time.  Yes, I am busy.  Yes, my job is challenging.  Welcome to the real world.  These are the constraints many of you work under each day.  I have no good excuses….but tonight something extraordinary happened!

During the public session of our Board of Education meeting, the administration does a presentation called the Barnegat Brag.  This is a curricular presentation that we have been doing every month for about two years to celebrate curricular initiatives, showcase student achievement, or introduce a new program.  Our public has seen everything from musical performances, to recognition of essay contest winners, to how the summer Jumpstart Algebra program helps struggling math students prepare for the year ahead.

Tonight was no different.  Our Barnegat Brag was about our Summer Professional Development Program.  These are presentations given BY teachers FOR teachers.  In short – turnkey professional development.  However it is done in a relaxed setting (summertime, casual dress) but not in a casual manner.  Teachers (and administrators) apply to present.  They must state their goals, learning objectives, and what participants will be able to do after attending the workshop.  This summer we had twenty-eight teachers present and four administrators (myself included).  The amazing news is that we had over FOUR HUNDRED registrations.  Some teachers registered for as many as fifteen workshops – all on their own time, all during the summer when they could be relaxing on one of our beautiful New Jersey beaches!  When the staff returned to school in September, I rewarded teachers who attended workshops with gift cards and even a “denim dress down day” for one entire school.

Then something REALLY special happened.  The Director of Curriculum and Instruction reminded the Board, public (and me) that I challenged him a few years ago to take on this task….the task of creating a Summer Professional Development program FOR teachers BY teachers.  It has grown tremendously! (I also recently challenged him to host an Ed Camp in our district.  THAT was amazing!  Maybe that’s another blog post…)

I often forget what I have inspired or motivated the staff to accomplish under my “vision”.

To have your vision validated is amazing. Validation – I Make a Difference!

Then, as the presentation was wrapping up, other staff members who were sitting in the audience said, “Don’t worry, Ms. Wood.  We’ll Tweet this and tag you.”  Six or seven months ago, teachers in our district would not have embraced Twitter or social media.  They didn’t even know what maker spaces were and how they could inspire students.  Only a few knew of genius hour and less than ten ever attended an Ed Camp.

How exciting!  These are things that I brought to Barnegat.  My vision was validated. Teachers and administrators are inspired by my innovation.(Wow!) They have also observed me fail publicly, get back up, and try again. I am humbled to work for the most amazing staff of educators.

The role of Superintendent is challenging.  It is often without thanks and with much criticism.  I realized tonight that the only thanks I need is seeing my vision embraced by teachers and enhanced by their talent and skill.




Author: karenwoodedu

Karen Wood is the Superintendent of Schools in Barnegat, NJ. With twenty-three years in education, Ms. Wood's career has been spent primarily in administration. She enjoys mentoring novice administrators and being connected to inspirational educators and leaders across the country.

3 thoughts on “Validation…I Make a Difference!”

  1. Karen,
    It is amazing what planting one seed with the right person can yield! Congrats on the program growing and transforming learning for teachers!


  2. How wonderful! It is awesome to see how hard the teachers of Barnegat work in the summer. I wish everyone knew that teachers work most Summer’s without pay. It always saddens me to hear comments about how teachers only work 10 months a year. Clearly this is not the case here in Barnegat!


  3. Karen,
    Thank you for sharing this. YOU have made a difference and continue to do so. Just by sharing this blog post, you are inspiring other people to take risks and branch out in new directions. Being a principal is so busy at times that I can’t imagine what it must be like to be a superintendent. Thanks for making the time to post on your initiatives!!

    Liked by 1 person

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