In a recent visit to our new location in Mineral Point, our children took advantage of the public swimming pool. This is an outdoor facility built in the 1930s. It was a project that was part of The New Deal’s Works Progress Administration during the Great Depression. We were impressed with the great condition that the pool was in during our first experience.
Visiting the pool was a reminder that our kids are very different. My son is a risk-taker. He immediately went to the tall diving board, climbed up the ladder, and jumped into the deep end with no hesitation. Conversely, my daughter elected for the smaller diving board. She tiptoed along the board, took a peek over the edge, walked back, contemplated the situation, and then finally jumped in like her older brother.
Pretty soon, they were going back and forth between diving boards and having a blast. There was no difference in their approaches. They asked me to take a picture of them jumping off the boards together (what you see above). There was zero teasing or gloating from my son that he was the first to leap off the tall board first. They got to the same end, each on their own time.
The point of this anecdote is to illustrate the process of change and how we might gain the courage to embrace something new. Yes, it is scary for some at first and not for others. We can come to try these new opportunities on our own timeline and still celebrate our successes as equals, instead of making it a competition. Letting go of our fears does not mean giving up our identities, of who we are as individuals. It is more about changing perspectives. During my transition from one school district to another, I have shed some of my own anxieties and habits so I can make room for what’s possible. Yet my principles and beliefs about teaching and learning have not swayed.
What has helped in this change for many of us is knowing that everything is going to be okay. We are moving forward together. There has been and will continue to be support from the community both within the district and at large. When we show hesitation, that only means we may not yet be ready. Eventually, we will. My role in all of this is to offer that support, to say, “It’s going to be fine”, and jump in together. It is when we join as one in the collective process that change is attainable.
PRINCIPAL, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL
This is Matt’s seventeenth year in public education. He started as a 5th and 6th grade teacher in a country school outside of Wisconsin Rapids, WI. After seven years of teaching, Matt served as an assistant principal, athletic director, and building principal all in Wisconsin Rapids. Now as an elementary principal with the Mineral Point Unified School District, he continues to enjoy working with students, staff, and families in their collective pursuit of lifelong learning.