I received this beautiful note at NCTE from a fellow slicer and educator. Since I first read it, it has filled me with such light. Sometimes it is amazing to me how well strangers can know you.
Last week, I got on a plane to Baltimore to attend a national conference. Alone. I’ve never traveled so far by myself, nor have I attended any professional conference without a friend. This was an entirely new experience for me, and on top of it, I was presenting.
I was nervous, full of trepidation, but absolutely thrilled.
Walking into the towering Baltimore Convention Center, I felt incredibly small and overwhelmed by all that stood before me. Now, I sit here in reverence of the experience I just had.
While I went alone, never once did I feel it.
For the entire time I was there, I was brilliantly lit by the passion and motivation of those around me. I was connected to each person I met by a shared devotion to what we love—unabashedly pursuing improvement for education.
Right now, my cup overflows. With fire, with hope, and mainly, with gratitude.
Gratitude for the opportunity to sit at a table of incredible women (and the amazing Lanny Ball) and enjoy a great meal while fervently discussing the issues and celebrations that matter most to us.
Gratitude to the people who absolutely made my day by sharing that they loved my writing. They will never know how those words floored me and showed me how small the world really is.
Gratitude for meeting so many of my mentors and favorite people in real life, especially those who plan to continue connecting with me. Cornelius, I especially thank you for your thinking, your calls to action, and your infectious personality that pushes all those around you to be radically pro-kid.
Gratitude for the incredible work educators are doing to promote equity, advocacy, and great appreciation for our often silenced students. Marcus Harden, your fortitude and devotion to not just identifying an issue but truly work to solve it is inspiring. You are bold, and you inspire me.
And immense gratitude to the three women who have guided me, pushed me, and presented with me—Melanie, Betsy, & Fran, I cannot thank you enough for pulling me into your circle and helping me grow.
The educator I am today is a culmination of all those who have influenced me. And after this past weekend, my evolution continues.
I am full. I am positively overwhelmed. I am renewed.
I am grateful.