Emerging Leaders

Recently, I was asked to serve on a panel of educators to be interviewed by an external team. As we explained the myriad of ways that we strive to meet the needs of our whole children, one interviewer retorted, “But how do you make sure you don’t love them into mediocrity?”

Aghast, I was unable to find the words I needed to respond in that moment, but I found some words that evening: Love does not reduce children to mediocrity. Pity does. Two powerful general sessions at the recent national ASCD conference in Atlanta, Georgia, helped me dig deeply into this interviewer’s statement and my strong response to it.

As educators, we see our profession hailed in many different contexts and media:  in blogs, movies, the news, and even TV commercials.  More often than not, pop culture portrays our profession from a vantage point that differs slightly--if not dramatically--from our day-to-day realities as educators. (In 2010, one example that struck Melissa, an elementary teacher at the time, was a Quaker Oatmeal commercial that showed a teacher enjoying her oatmeal breakfast in the serenity of her empty classroom with sunshine streaming in as she read a book.  Apparently this teacher-actress didn’t face coming to school before the sun rose, reporting immediately to morning duty to supervise a cafeteria full of early-arriving students, and eating breakfast at home to make sure she actually had time to eat!)

Today in South Carolina, the need for more quality educators continues to grow for a number of reasons: educators retiring, schools and districts working to make class sizes more manageable for teachers, and an increasing number of communities that are experiencing unprecedented growth and development. Currently, it is estimated that South Carolina’s post-secondary institutions graduate only half the number of teachers needed to serve in our state’s schools and classrooms.

Today in South Carolina, the need for more quality educators continues to grow for a number of reasons: educators retiring, schools and districts working to make class sizes more manageable for teachers, and an increasing number of communities that are experiencing unprecedented growth and development. Currently, it is estimated that South Carolina’s post-secondary institutions graduate only half the number of teachers needed to serve in our state’s schools and classrooms.