October 2016 - Head's Corner

October 18, 2016
Greetings CMS Families!
I trust that you have settled nicely into the routine of being back to school or that you have made the adjustment of being in school for the first time. By October, we have all made significant progress. We have conquered the back to school angst. Ideally, we are pros at getting to bed on time, getting enough rest, packing lunches, getting the kids to school on time and getting ourselves to work on time. We have also reviewed the schoolcalendar and have done our personal best to synchronize our multiple calendars so that we don't miss any key dates in our various spheres of influence. It all sounds good, but after 23 years in education and parenting my own four children, plus countless others, I'm still a work in progress.
Last week, thanks to a former CMS parent, I had the distinct pleasure of joining a group of approximately 20 professionals from both the private and nonprofit sectors at Harvard's Authentic Leadership Institute. I welcomed the opportunity, not only because of the tremendous respect I have for this parent, but also because I recognize how critical it is for leaders to be authentic and create environments that foster authenticity. The ugly truth is that, while many of us know and understand the value of authenticity in theory, it is not something that we practice for a number of reasons, such as the desire to live up to other people's expectations, the fear of not being accepted, the need to fit in, a lack of confidence in our ability, intellect, appearance, or some other manufactured obstacle. 
The group had 48 hours to unpack our authentic selves and come up with our individualized statements of purpose based on the stories we were required to share during the two-day conference. There we were, a bunch of high achieving adults thrust into a room with strangers, force to share our personal stories, hopes, dreams and vulnerabilities. Failure to fully participate was not an option. We had to answer questions about the "crucible moments" in our lives that have shaped us into the leaders we are today. The process was humbling and amazing. It was one of the best conferences that I have attended.
Initially I wondered, "What kind of 'self-help' earthy-crunchy conference is this?" By the end of the session, I felt inspired and encouraged. I was inspired by my cohort's growth and our ability to connect in ways that people who spend a lot of time with each other on a daily basis do not. By sharing stories and our vulnerabilities, we established a meaningful and authentic connection that gave us permission to relax, rather than posture for the coveted "alpha" spot that so many of us secretly desire. We were able to be ourselves - the good, the bad and the ugly - while truly wanting the best for everyone in the group. There was no judgement. In the end, we all produced EXCEPTIONAL purpose statements, while gaining new friends from as far away as Alaska and India and as close as Cambridge and Boston.
The purpose of the Institute is to accelerate the creation of the next generation of leaders through authentic engagement. By embracing both our gifts and flaws, we were able become highly effective and more quickly produce great work. The general sense from the group was that while we were very fortunate to do this as adults, we could solve some of the world's greatest challenges if schools could create environments where children could be themselves starting in early education and continuing through college. It may sound so simplistic but the reality is that it worked with our group.  
Before we all went our separate ways, I had to share that I knew of a place where children are able to do this, not only in theory but in practice! I invited the group to come visit CMS and see for themselves how our students are thriving as authentic learners, from as early as 21 months all the way through middle school. The group appreciated my invitation and received it as a sincere gesture, as a way to share information and pedagogy that could benefit them in their various personal and professional lives. As always, I was proud of what is happening here at CMS, not only for students, but for adults, too. There aren't many places that can truly appreciate the multitude of authenticities (including the diversity of experiences and thought) that CMS embraces. Where else could I be a passionate educator and pastor who rocks five inch heels daily, and reads everything from Ebony Magazine to the latest research in archeology while making no apologies for being direct (except when my inner Chris Rock kicks in) and who is, at the same time, humbled daily by the hearts, souls and brains of this community?
Finally, I leave you with my purpose statement: I am a "zealous concierge to perpetual triumph." Authenticity lives here and our students are the next generation of leaders. How lucky we are!
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