Friday, January 29, 2016

The Paradox of Courage: A Parent's Perspective

Daring greatly - by being vulnerable

In the book Daring Greatly one chapter scared me to death…in fact, I skimmed it at first.  Then I went back.  I bet I started that chapter five times before I sat, finished it and allowed it to soak in…to change me.  The dreaded chapter four – The Vulnerability Armory. 

Mr. Cross has always pushed the Cougar community to stretch ourselves.  Chapter four was definitely a stretch to me.  Why does the word “vulnerable” scare me?  Us?  Why are we so afraid of being vulnerable.  What’s the harm?  Oh yeah – hurt, ridicule, embarrassment.  What if they see what my house really looks like?  What if they really knew how hard I had to study?  What if they knew that I was sad some of the time?  When did it become wrong to be vulnerable – to be real?

Want to know what I finally learned in the dreaded chapter four?  I learned that we all struggle with vulnerability.  I learned that everyone has some type of mask they pray does not get ripped off, discovered.  I learned that I had to redefine “joy.”  I needed to be grateful for even the smallest of things.  The sun shining, the car rider line moving smoothly, a good hair day – I was going to be grateful for more than the “obvious.”

The last thing I learned might shock you.  Hold onto your hat…I don’t need to be perfect.  Wow!  Mind-blowing; I know.  I can strive for excellence but don’t need to obtain perfection.  The scars I have gotten along the way, the cracks I have fallen in…they make me who I am.  They make me “enough.”  Learning that I did not need to be perfect changed my life.  Accepting me for me – that was something quite frankly that saved my life.  Yep; saved my life.  Uh oh – I am being vulnerable.  I am being honest.  I am being real.  Know what?  It feels pretty good.  
Maybe you are lucky and knew these things before me.  I am truly happy for you – but guess what – the new vulnerable me is here to tell you I needed to learn these things.  I sure am glad I did.  I want each of these things for my girls.  I want each of these things for you.  I want you to know that everyone around you struggles, worries and stresses.  Look around.  I dare you to be real with someone.  It might make you a new friend. 
I want you to find joy.  Find joy in the little things, in the ordinary.  Maybe you will see joy in your classmate who shares a pencil with you.  Maybe you will find joy in a smile from a stranger.  Hey, maybe you will find joy by smiling at a stranger. 

Perfection – don’t let it rule over you.  Embrace your scars.  Embrace each other.  Support each other.  Lend a hand when it’s needed and ask for one when you need it.  I am not kidding, chapter four changed my life.  Be vulnerable.  I dare you!  

Kym Pratt, Proud Cinco Ranch Parent

Friday, January 15, 2016

To be or not be...resolute that is.

I hereby resolve to...

I feel confident you have heard these words at some point in your life or perhaps even spoken them yourself.  With the new year underway, what better time to think about resolutions, or in this case, maybe the better word to think about is resolution.  What does it mean to resolve or to be resolute?  The dictionary says it is to decide firmly on a course of action, to have firm determination to do something, or to be admirably purposeful, determined, and unwavering.  Powerful words indeed. As your principal, I think being admirably purposeful is a really good thing.

As I began to write this blog, I thought my admirable purpose was to encourage our Cinco Ranch community to be resolved to continue to dare greatly in 2016.  However, I must admit as the words show up across the screen, I am writing perhaps just as much to encourage myself to be resolute in the path we are on this year.

I have been talking to students, staff, and parents about this idea of daring greatly and what that means and what it would look like day to day in our school and our community.  I feel like we have had a very successful first semester in all the ways we typically measure success, but what I may appreciate even more than our standard successes are the things we did a little differently.

I am proud that our students have resolved to treat one another with kindness and compassion. I am proud that our teachers have resolved to grow in their profession and be the best they can be.  I am proud that our community has resolved to continue to support this school in it's goals and endeavors.

We have had well over 16,000 views of our Celebrating Cinco blog since we began last August. Blogs that have been written by students and staff members.  That support has not gone unnoticed or unappreciated.  We kicked off two Cougar Challenges with students and staff where we have had the opportunity to come together and learn from one another to create and foster an environment of support and understanding in our school.  We have a student body who has embraced our CPOE (Cougar Pride Over Everything) and shown unparalleled spirit.

All of these things have energized  and uplifted me.  Now my resolve is to keep moving forward.  It is to help students who feel disconnected from this school.  It is to find new ways to give a voice to all students.  It is to continue to celebrate great things happening with our students and this school.  It is to try new fail at new things sometimes.   It is to keep the passion, to remember the purpose of why we are here.  A teacher mentioned to me very recently that she needed to keep her resolve to fight hard to help the child who was wanting to give up halfway through the year.  This teacher summed up resolve in a moment.  We have to resolve to help children even when they don't want us to.

 As I said, when I sat down to write this blog, I anticipated sending this message of being resolute out "to the people" of Cinco Ranch.  I have realized very quickly the only person's resolve I can truly effect is my own.  With that being said, I hereby resolve to be resolute about continuously helping and supporting this school and this community to grow, fail, and grow some more because as Theodore Roosevelt said over a hundred years ago, "... there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; ... who spends himself in a worthy cause;...who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails at least fails while daring greatly." May we all resolve to be the doer of deeds and if we fail, may we fail while always daring greatly.

I wish you all a very happy and prosperous 2016.

James Cross, Your principal