My first year in education was in 2001 at private school in Greenville, SC. I was an assistant to five first grade classes before lunch, then I taught enrichment lessons to K5 in the afternoon. As I reflect back on that year, difficult is the best word I can think of to describe it accurately. Learning is hard, and that year I learned a lot.
Even though the year was extremely tough me, it was there that I met my first kindred spirit in education, Karen Ketterman. I LOVED going into her room everyday. It was such a happy place and always felt full of love. Her spirit made it that way. She was different than any other educator I had met in that school. She loved her students more than anything. Every time she talked about them she beamed with pride. Sometimes she would tear up as she talked about them. Many of her students that year were considered below average, but you would not have known that walking into her room. Every single kid she taught was a shining star, and they knew it because she told them they were. Most importantly, she had fun being a teacher. There wasn't a day that went by that I didn't hear her say, "Orange you glad you're here!"
It didn't take me long to know that she was the educator I wanted to be like. Yes, there were other great teachers there, but she was different. She was my kindred spirit. I don't know what I would have done without her that year, but it was then I learned Kindred Spirits carry you through rough years.
Since that first rough year, I have found lots of kindred spirits in this fantastic career. I wouldn't dare start listing them all for fear of leaving out someone awesome, but yesterday at Edcamp Sparkle, I found 250+ new kindred spirits to add to the list that Karen started 15 years ago. My heart is so full as I think about these "sparklers" who joined me at the first of what I hope is many Edcamps I will be a part of. Checkout some pics of the day here. The day was filled with learning, leadership, and love as we equipped, encouraged, and empowered one another.
This group you see below was just incredible. What other profession voluntarily gives up a Saturday without pay to be better at what they do? Not many I can assure you. Not only did they come, but they came with pep in their step, smiles on their faces, and sparkle all over... and they got there at 7:30am no less! It was incredible to spend the day with so many inspiring educators. As I have transitioned out of the classroom, I often wonder what kind of impact I am making. Then, these amazing people came into my life and made it clear because Kindred spirits build you up just when you need it most.
Leading up to yesterday's Edcamp, it was these beautiful kindred spirits that made the big event happen. The people you see here have a passion for students, teachers, and the profession that is contagious and infectious. I was so honored to work alongside these sparkly humans yesterday as they poured themselves into the work of building up others in our profession. They embody all that is #Sparkle! They served and led, they encouraged and affirmed all that is good in public education. These people are much needed in my life. Sometimes the labor is hard, the days are long, and the work is never ending, but Kindred spirits keep you full so you can keep running the race.
I wish for you lots of sparkly kindred spirits like these to make this the best school year ever!