Sunday, September 11, 2016

Servant Leadership

Today my youngest son and I brought my husband lunch at the Palm Bay Fire Department.  It stirred some deep thoughts on how we both ended up in our careers.

Fifteen years ago America was changed forever.  I was in college at the time the events unfolded that ended up welding Americans together through a horrific tragedy that was documented from so many different perspectives, which made it almost impossible not to internalize and personalize.  What it did for the United States was communicate our strength and show that when we are united together, we are capable of enduring anything.  As a country, people from all walks of life began commiting selfless acts because we felt instrinsically motivated to think outside ourselves.

At the time, I was a typical college student, working my way through my education at the University of Florida.  I worked late the night before closing down the lounge of Chilis and I was exhausted.  I'll never forget my husband running into the room that morning exclaiming a plane had hit one of the world trade centers.  I ran out to the couch and I don't think I moved for the next 12 hours.  I just sat there, sobbing, as the events unfolded.  We held each others hand and came to the conclusion that we had to drive up to New York that day to help.  We felt compelled to do SOMETHING because I think we just felt so helpless.

We know that September 11th changed America, but I think that was also a moment that changed my husband and I.  Our committment to servant leadership surpased our individual needs and desires, and confirmed our deep down desire to serve others.  While the reality of rent payments, classes, and work didn't allow us to leave Gainesville, I think it changed our career paths.  Sean ended up becoming a fire fighter, something I feel was always a desire for him but was confirmed through the tragedy and I decided to steer away from law and focus on education.

I've always really loved the quote from Martin Luther King Jr. that says, "Life's most urgent and persistent question is, 'What are you doing for others.'"  I think this event made this extremely relevant to think about.

Now that I'm in year fourteen of being an educator, I think I feel even more committed to being a servant leader.  The cause of everything we do is to encourage and inspire others around us.  I would feel fullfilled in my leadership if I could build leaders around me and create a sustainable growth not just in my school, but in my district.  It's beyond an individual goal and it certainly isn't driven from selfish desire or needs.  To be effective as a lead learner, there has to be a commitment to the whole and a realization that the tribe is more important than any single individual.  All of this, for me, comes from a focus on the children... who are the ultimate goal in education.

Servant leadership is what creates systemic changes.  In my opinion, anyone can quickly change an environment, but to create sustainable growth, you must work on building up those around you.  Fifteen years after a day that changed America, I hope to continue to grow and build up others around me to help keep America inspiring and hopeful for all families.  What I've realized after taking time to reflect a lot today is that sometimes inspiration comes from tragedy.  I'm proud to say that my husband  is a Lieutenant in the Palm Bay Fire Department, and has devoted his career to keeping others safe. I wonder how many other familes have taken on a path of serving others from moments that seemed unbearably difficult,

Our goal will always be to serve others with open hearts and minds.

1 comment:

  1. I am excited to watch and learn from your journey and your willingness to make change through teaching and learning. Keep writing!