Friday, March 12, 2021


One of my favorite words and concepts is "steadfast." Lately, that word keeps coming up in my thoughts and ruminations about life, the pandemic, and teaching. I don't know exactly when I started thinking about this word. But I do know that the first thought that comes to mind around the word steadfast is my father. My Dad, who is now 85 and still very active and had an amazing career in public education. He's one of the few educators I know who spent an entire 42-year career in the same school system. First he was an elementary teacher, then Principal, then Director of Elementary Education, Assistant Superintendent, and finally, was Superintendent of Schools in my hometown for the final 25 years of his career.  He retired in 1997. Steadfast. But, it wasn't just in his longevity at one employer. He was in it for the duration from the beginning. He had enduring friendships and collegial relationships with virtually everyone I knew who worked for the school system. He was not only their leader, he was also their friend. He and my mom have been married for 66 years. Steadfast. He served the church for many years as a member of the session and for the last several years as Clerk of the Session. This was a leadership position that carries very little adulation and a great deal of influence and importance in the Presbyterian Church. He was steadfast for his church as well. 

So, what exactly does steadfast mean and how does it relate to my life today and the work that we all do in the midst of the pandemic?

To be steadfast is to be resolute. To be steadfast is to be unwavering. Steadfast is firmly fixed and immovable, firm in belief, determined, and loyal. It's funny because I can remember times in my young life when I was criticized for being loyal. And, in fact, sometimes I was loyal to a fault. But that's okay. It has manifested as I have matured into a quality I am proud of.

I truly desire to be steadfast in so many facets of my life and work. First and foremost, it is important that I am at steadfast member of my family. I have been married for 30 years and I can honestly stay that the longevity of our relationship and friendship is based on a common value of this concept. I also truly hope that my kids find my unconditional love for them to be steadfast. We don't go up and down based on daily actions, mistakes, or successes. The way I feel about my boys doesn't change from day to day. My love for them is steadfast. 

I'm celebrating 20 years at NCSSM this year. To some extent, I feel like my work at the school has also been reflection of this value. There have been some hard days over the years. But there have been way more fantastic days. There have been some failures. But there have been way more successes. And, all of them are a direct result of this inclination to be steadfast. Have there been other opportunities that have come my way? Of course. But none of them seemed quite right. It felt much more natural to be steadfast. As I move into a new leadership role at my school, I truly do think about this concept as it relates to my work in guiding curriculum, faculty, and programs.

I feel like steadfast can also be a daily approach.  Is my attitude unwavering?  Is my approach unwavering?  I guess no one is truly unwavering. We all have ups and downs, good days and bad.  But, can I be generally consistent?  This is my goal.  Can I be steady?  Predictable?  Our role as educators is exactly this.  Our students desire consistency.  They need us to be predictable in the manner we communicate, teach, discipline, correct, assess, and interact.  I really try not to get too high or low when things go well or poorly. Class didn't go well today? There is always tomorrow.  A performance was exceptional?  Excellent - that is what we were striving for! Now, what is next?

As I approach the end of this academic year, I continue to seek to be steadfast.  We are all getting weary of the pandemic and all of the inconveniences associated with its impact on education, learning, and life in general.  But, in the midst of the storm, I will continue to try to be steadfast, unwavering, and consistent.  And, when we get back to in person learning, I will do the same. I encourage you to consider this approach as well.


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