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Don't Ever Let Anyone Tell You What You Are Capable Of Achieving

I remember it as if it was yesterday โ€“ I was sitting in a large conference room, the lone charter school founder, among nine members of the board of trustees of Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts. It was a long road getting there and in just about six weeks, we were scheduled to open our doors to 194 kindergarten through second-grade students and their families. ๐Ÿ‘จโ€๐Ÿ‘ฉโ€๐Ÿ‘งโ€๐Ÿ‘ฆ

This should have been a meeting where we tied up loose ends. Unfortunately, we had so much more to discuss. We didnโ€™t have a building in which to open our school and the co-founder, who was also supposed to serve as the head of operations and arts, had resigned.

I knew this was a make it or break it meeting ๐ŸŽฏ As the meeting was called to order, the facilities committee made their report. After losing a lease with another organization, they sought a lease-purchase agreement of a school building in a neighboring school district. The committee was hopeful that the two organizations would come to an agreement, yet we still did not have a confirmed location to open our school, meant to open in less than four weeks ๐Ÿจ

The second agenda item was the resignation of our co-founder and what our next steps should be. The board urged me to hire a replacement immediately, to lessen the load of opening the school. I declined and explained that it would expend more time and energy bringing someone new up to speed. Instead, I needed to spend my time focusing on teacher training and building school culture๐Ÿ’ž

At that time, one of the board members voiced her concern that we did not have the leadership to open the school effectively. She urged the board to request a planning year so that we could work out these issues. I listened to her concerns and I understood from where she was coming โ€“ I really did. We were at the crossroads of success or failure, and no one wants to be associated with failure. I also understood that if Renaissance Academy Charter School of the Arts did not open as scheduled that August, it never would. The school, the board of trustees, and I would lose all credibility with the families that signed up to join our program. More than that, I felt a commitment to the hundreds of families that I personally met with while registering their children for school. Where would those kids go to school if we did not open? What schools were left for the families? I knew that the only seats left in elementary schools in the Rochester City School District were in the lowest-performing schools, schools to which I would not send my own children. How could I, in good conscience, knowingly send those children to those schools? I had promised those families something more.

I took a deep breath, centered myself, and said, โ€œWe are not asking for a planning year. With all due respect, I did not just fall off a turnip truck. I have been a principal before, and I am quite capable of opening this school on my own.โ€ I explained my concerns for the children, their educational future, and the future of our organization. I said, โ€œI made a commitment to these families, their children, and this city. What about the thirty-two staff members who signed employee agreements and who left other positions to join us? What should we tell them?โ€ I asked, further expressing my concern for our staff. ๐Ÿ—ฃ

A board member, sat forward and said, โ€œLet me ask you something, which is more likely to get us sued โ€“ asking for a planning year or moving ahead and working to open this school in August?โ€ โ“โ“โ“โ“ โ€œAsking for a planning year,โ€ I quickly responded. He sat back and said, โ€œThen I say we keep going.โ€ The board chairperson asked each member of the board to state their preference and all but one said that we should proceed for August. I breathed a sigh of relief and knew I had the support of the board of trustees, but also that, for me, it was all or nothing. I needed to open this school to fulfill the commitment I made to the families and my community ๐Ÿจ

The moral of the story: Donโ€™t ever let anyone tell YOU what YOU are CAPABLE of achieving! โค๏ธ๐Ÿงก๐Ÿ’›๐Ÿ’š๐Ÿ’™๐Ÿ’œ

In love, leadership, and friendship,

P.S. If you would like to know more about how I help educational leaders like you achieve their goals, schedule a free strategy session here


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