Best of 2022

I am absolutely loving the best of lists from my friends and heroes. So, why not put my two cents into the world? Here are some things I have loved in 2022…


Stolen Focus by Johann Hari: This book had me thinking deeply about my relationship with technology. As someone who has a well-cultivated network online, I want to find a way to maintain this goodness while reducing the mental and physical impacts of my scrolling habits.

And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meacham: Obviously, anyone who knows me is mildly concerned about my love for historian Jon Meacham. Having read or listened to many of his books and his podcasts (see below), I found the nuances of Lincoln’s internal struggle and leadership to bring new light to this complex person.

The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker: This has been on my shelf for a very long time, and I’m deeply grateful for this work. It affirms my desire for deep intention in gathering, everything from seating to the color of sticky notes. I keep giving it to others with the hopes of sparking their own intentions.

Turning to One Another by Margaret Wheatley: This was recommended to me by my friend, Rhonda, years ago, and I don’t know what sparked my finally opening the spine. Deep provocations about the state of conversation and connection in the world which provide space for self-reflection and group connection.

See No Stranger by Valarie Kaur: I’ve written of the beauty of this text before and can’t speak enough of its beauty. Valarie Kaur is a remarkable tale weaver who offers her brutal and beautiful story, and how love will concur it all.

Let Your Life Speak by Parker Palmer: read during a particularly hard time in 2022. Part memoir, part life guidebook, this short but powerful read is a must for all who lead, learn, or guide.

The Love Songs of WEB Du Bois by Honoree Fanonne Jeffers: It took me the better part of five months to read this masterpiece. Layer upon layers of a family built from trauma, resilience, and love. I am deeply grateful for the moments spent with this book.

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist: read in the first weeks of 2022, this book is one I’ll need to come back to again and again.


Sold a Story: As the leader of teachers of reading, I follow the revival of reading wars closely. Many of my faculty friends were trained up in an environment of balanced literacy. As we discover the neuroscience behind learning to read, Sold a Story, and the work of Emily Hanford, give us a lot to chew upon.

Gangster Capitalism Season 3: A brutal look at the corruption at Liberty University and specifically the way that Jerry Falwell supported the silencing of sexual assault and filled his own coffers. It is maddening but an important listen as we unpeel the layers of so-called leaders for the Church.

Dare to Lead Podcast, episodes with Simon Sinek & Adam Grant: Rarely do I slow down and take notes with a podcast, but for this two-part series on the state of work, it was a must. Highly recommended read for all of those who lead, but also all those who have concerns about the state of work in America.

For the People with Bishop Wright (Foley Beach episode): I adore listening to Bishop Rob Wright (Diocese of Atlanta) every week. He brings deep insight into the world for Episcopalians and non-Episcopalians alike. In his conversation with Bishop Foley Beach of the ACNA, I found his patience, grace, and embodiment of love radiate through even when there was significant theological disagreement.


The Summer I Turned Pretty (amazon prime): I admit that I broke my own rule and watched the series without reading the books, but oh, how I became invested in this love triangle last summer. A thoughtful and heart roller coastering tale.

For All Mankind (Apple TV+): I’ve loved every season of this series and the most recent season took us to Mars with gusto and drama. My girl Molly never fails me.

The Met Opera HD Live: The Hours: I have seen the ads for the Met at the movies for years and have never actually gone. My desire to see the new production of The Hours starring Renee Fleming, Joyce DiDonato, and Kelli O’Hara ran so deep I decided to give it a go. Not only was the experience a hoot (junior mints at the opera!) but the production was mesmerizing. The work is rich, complex, and melodically luxurious. The use of the Greek chorus and dancers created nuance as the three stories were intricately woven together. I really hope a cast recording was created.

Fire Shut Up in My Bones-Lyric Opera of Chicago: It was worth every penny and missed minute of work to go to Chicago to see this premiere production by Terence Blanchard based on Charles M. Blow’s memoir. A jazz influenced score and out of this world dancing, it was one of the finest pieces of theatre I’ve seen in a long time.

Bono in conversation with Jon Meacham: I had no idea the impact that this conversation was going to have on my heart. I knew that I love Bono. I knew I love Jon Meacham. I knew it would be a nice convo. What I didn’t expect was the depth to which Bono would intricately describe what it means to be the hands and feet of God on Earth. His story of faith that is so little about religion and so much more about heeding the Great Commandment. Then, when the choir of Men and Girls broke into Bob Chilcott’s arrangement of MLK, I was simply undone. I cannot wait to read Surrender over the break.


Forward by Ashes & Arrows: I first met this band at the Wild Goose Festival where the first performed on a side stage. I caught the end of their act after Compline in the Episcopal Tent and whoa. So thankful they played at lunch the next day to absolutely wow the Cafe tent. I keep hoping that someone like Drew Holcolmb will pick them up for a tour. Fingers crossed!

Weiner Strong playlist: This summer, two of my former students were tragically killed in a housefire while on vacation. It was a gut punch to see two bright lights go out from this world. Grateful to have been “friends” with the younger sister on Spotify, I’ve found this particular playlist to bring joy and hope into the world, just like L & J did for their friends, family, and even strangers.

Steve Hackman-Beethoven vs. Coldplay: Last season I went to my first Fusion concert from the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra. Brahms vs. Radiohead blew my darn mind. This season they are doing a whole new series including Beethoven vs. Coldplay. I’m really excited for how this rendition of my favorite symphony, #3, is going to remix.

What did you enjoy in 2022? What did you read, see, listen to that I shouldn’t miss? Here is to closing 2022 with one last book and starting fresh in 2023.

School as a Sanctuary

*Adapted from my Back to School Message for Lower School Families, Sept. 20, 2022*

Most of your students will know, and some of you may know too, that I am an extremely avid reader. It is not unusual for me to have multiple books going at once. I have both in print and in my ears, and I find it a great source of learning and joy for my heart. Perhaps my favorite text from this summer was See No Stranger, a Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love, written by author and activist Valarie Kaur. I commend it to you. I won’t tell you much about it other than to say that I believe that it speaks to the heart of humanity and the heart of the Quaker testimony of seeing that of God in another person. This particular quotation that you see here, I think, speaks to the heart of what we do at Sandy Spring Friends School and in the lower school. 

See No Stranger, A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love.

Wonder is central to what we do here in early childhood and elementary education. Wonder is the beginning of learning, wonder is the beginning of love, wonder is the beginning of curiosity, and wonder is finding our way– learning begins with asking the question “why?” As we walk together in these earliest years, we honor the curiosity and wonder of childhood as a reverent time within our learning journeys. We ask the question of why as we learn words, and we see how they fit together into sentences, and then we see whole sentences become paragraphs become pages, and what does that mean, and how do we grapple with the text? We learn as we become curious about numbers and how they fit together, and how when you combine them, and then you mix them, and then you take them apart if you get magical things. As we work in our friendships, we build our connections with other human beings, both younger and older, we wonder, “how am I going to navigate the space?” We learn the stories of others and tell our own, we ask, “how am I going to be a good friend? how am I going to navigate conflict?, and who along the way is going to help me that is part of the work of childhood?”

I have heard it said, and you probably have too, that Sandy Spring Friends School is a bubble, and I think that’s an interesting way of thinking about it. Many of us have come to the school for the shared set of progressive social values and the mindset around the relationship between adults and children walking in community together.  I’ve started to think about shifting the word bubble to sanctuary. Sanctuary, being the place where we go to find rest, to build, to learn, to be equipped in a safe environment that is at the heart of what we do here. Providing a safe space for our children to learn and grow and struggle and succeed and fail, all within our safety net that honors and respects who they are along the way, and also equips them to walk from this space, from our beautiful acreage, into the world where they will encounter those with whom they may disagree and those with whom they may find it hard to love. And yet, from this space, they will be equipped to walk into the world confidently, knowing and honoring the values learned here and in your home, and taking them out to be changemakers.

As we work through details and logistics, let us not forget the why behind the what and how. My why is affirmed each day in the faces of the children, in their infectious laughter. I get to be here each day to help shape and guide the learning all children. I get to be in a space that affirms that of God in everyone and creates a sanctuary for belonging and love. And, I am buoyed by the trust placed in us by our families to join us in our mission. This is a sacred gift, and I’m deeply grateful.

Evidence of Things Not Seen

If you had been an outsider looking in on the end of First Grade today, you might have seen and heard kids playing and the Head of Lower School quietly completing part of a Mandala. It was free choice time, and I, the HoLS, was sitting in with the class as their teacher went to coach a sport. It was the best gift on a Friday afternoon. The choices were: free draw, books, Legos, Marble Run, or Make Believe play. No one chose books, but all were engaged in their play.

I quietly picked up the markers and the drawing paper and began my listening and peripheral vision observations. Deep and rich learning was happening all around me.

My Friends playing Make-Believe had a rich game of “School Office” going on, complete with an understanding of the role of the front desk, the way the Principal needs a walkie-talkie, and how to solve the problem of the class bunny continuing to escape. This imaginative play was indicative of the understanding of different roles for different jobs while tapping into creativity.

My Friends playing with Legos were deep into the work of engineering while creating a vast tale of the boat, its inhabitants, and the sea around them. The Marble Run Friends started building the tallest of towers to observe how fast the marbles could run-growing their understanding of speed. Near the end of the class, a group was experimenting with force and motion while trying to push marbles to force one another out of the run. Deep hypothesizing was happening, and it was determined that the height of the run drop increased the force the marble could apply because of its speed. Brilliant!

It was my Friend engaged in Free Draw from whom I gleaned the most learning today. He had initially wanted to play a game, but that game wasn’t a choice, so he set to work on creating a new one based on his understanding of Pokemon and a wish finder game. He wrote the numbers and the corresponding emoticons, including that of “Ditto.” He created cards for mystery and declared, if you get the smile emotion, you win the game. He invited a friend to play, who was quite thoughtful to say at the end, “that was a quick game.” With no other feedback, my Friend took it upon to expand the choices, emotions, and even added a second mystery card. He took great care to shuffle and test his work. He practices flipping between the numbers and the matching emoticons to assure he was clear on which was which. He brought it back to his Friend and said, “I made it harder, can we play again?” To which the friend was gleeful to participate. I noted quietly, “your friend gave you feedback, and you went right to applying it, what a great way to grow your game design.” The pride on their face was the best treat of all.

So all the while to the unschooled eye, this might have looked like just kids playing was deep learning that they can take into whatever space they might want to pursue next. Creativity, engineering, the scientific and design process, all the while living with joy. This is the why of childhood. We ended our time together with a bit of Meeting for Worship and the query was “what are you grateful for today?” The best one? “Sarah took care of us today.” Oh, dear Friend, the feeling was mutual.

As far as I could go, but worth every second.

What Should I Learn This Summer?

“Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”― Socrates

There is no way to fully describe my excitement about summer learning each year. It is even more fun to craft suggestions for my teammates. While this year, the primary summer learning for faculty in our division is REST, and the second is to read their grade level’s book on Ruth Bader Ginsburg as our all-school read, a suggested goal is to explore content and skills practice with lots of suggestions. My colleague Bela and I went through our favorite spots and devised this list. (Our list also included behind-the-curtain training for Math in Focus and Wit & Wisdom, two of our anchor curricula.) Did something help you? Tweet us and let us know!!

How are you and your colleagues exploring summer professional learning?

Early Literacy

The Art and Science of Teaching Primary Reading by Christopher Such

One Sentence at a Time article and The Writing Revolution: A Guide to Advancing Thinking Through Writing in All Subjects and Grades by Judith C. Hochman and Natalie Wexler

Mathematical Practice

Youcubed: How to Learn Maths for Students (yes, take this one!!)

Youcubed: What is Number Sense?

Build Math Minds: Teaching Mathematics Series

Build Math Minds: Mathematical Fluency Series

Mike Flynn: Rethinking Mathematics Playlist

Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler

Becoming the Math Teacher You Wish You’d Had by Tracy Johnston Zager

Taking Action: Implementing Effective Mathematics Teaching Practices by Huinker and Bill

Teaching and Learning Practice

Creating Cultures of Thinking by Ron Ritchhart

Developing Assessment-Capable Visible Learners by Frey, Hattie, and Fisher


Self Reg for Elementary Teachers

Five Domains of Self-Reg

Five Steps of Self-Reg

Self Reg Misconceptions Playlist

Institutional Equity, Justice, and Belonging

Learning for Justice Social Justice Framework

Cultivating Genius by Gholdy Muhammad

Troublemakers by Carla Shalaby

For Vocation & Inspiration

Let Your Life Speak by Parker J. Palmer

The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown

Onward by Elena Aguilar

The Knowledge Gap by Natalie Wexler

Range by David Epstein

When You Wonder, You’re Learning: Mister Rogers’ Enduring Lessons for Raising Creative, Curious, Caring Kids by Gregg Behr & Ryan Rydzewski


Edu-Twitter is a fantastic way to connect to local, national, and global educators to provide bite-sized pd, provocations, research, and collegiality. I highly recommend making this resource a part of your PD toolbox. (If you need Twitter 101, feel free to set up a time with me this summer and I’m happy to help.)

Who to Follow:

Math: @pwharris, @buildmathminds, @howie_hua, @robertkaplinsky, @illustratemath, @nctm, @Mathgarden, @CFLM_math, @jgough, @bholden86, @kerry_cootemath

ELA: @writeguyjeff, @liv2learn, @greatmindsed, @readingshift, @reading_league, @dyslexiaDA, @pernilleripp, @colbysharp,  Science of Reading list of accounts 

IEJB, SEL, Quakerism: @FriendsCouncil, @theglasgowgroup, @learnforjustice. @stuartshanker, @susanhopkins5, @Self_Reg, @responsiveclass, @TheNoraProject, @pfagell  

General EDU: @ELEducation, @NAISnetwork, @leadanddesign, @ASCD, @suchmo83, @cultofpedagogy, @visiblelearning 

SSFS Colleagues: @glasgow_rodney, @1stFriendSS, @sundreamshine, @teach2connect

Hashtags to Follow: GnuBelongHere, #MathStratChat, #SOR, #edutwitter

And for me…here is my leadership practices and provocations list for the summer.

Currents: Listens & Reads

It’s been a minute since I’ve updated my listens and reads list for sharing. Someone asked me for a recommendation this week and I thought it was about time to share.


The Power of Giving Away Power by Matthew Barzun. This summer read (listen) was a really thoughtful look at expanding the lens of leadership and releasing control. I fight my need to control regularly and this helped remind me of the need to give away to gain.

The Practice of Groundedness by Brad Stulberg. Quite possibly the best book I read in 2021. Considering the six primary functions/foci to create an internal groundedness. I keep revisiting the wisdom in this book and used Brad’s model to think about how I am building/dismantling habits in the year ahead.

How the Word is Passed by Clint Smith. An amazing summer 2021 listen as Dr. Smith led my ears on his in-depth look at racism in America through the lens of historical bastions of racist beginnings. A must-listen for anyone who seeks to get proximate to history and to the continued battle against racism in America.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. In anticipation of a series release based on this book, I finally read Station Eleven and in one sitting immersed myself into the post-apocalyptic pandemic world. It was luxurious in its words and character development. (And the series, while departing and creating new storylines, is spectacular.)

The Daily Stoic by Ryan Holiday (and podcast). I was introduced to Ryan Holiday through The Growth Equation podcast and have found myself doing a deep dive into Stoicism and its impacts on life/work. This daily reading offers insight from the Stoics and a lesson to consider in moving towards a reflective life.

Present over Perfect by Shauna Niequist. This was a beautiful and compelling reminder that we are good enough, just as we are made.


The Book of Hope by Jane Goodall and Douglas Abrams. I listened to the audio version of this book and was so grateful to hear Dr. Goodall’s voice, its richness and pace adding to the nuance of these stories of hope. In a frenetic and painful world, this is a balm.

MLK Tapes from iHeartPodcasts and Tenderfoot TV. This short series podcast digs into the investigations to the real/backstory behind the assassination of Dr. King. A really interesting listen.

Up First from NPR. I’ve grown weary of the loud commentary of the morning show I’ve watched for years. I like that Up First gives me the Morning Edition synopsis as I get ready to start the day.

The Daily Stoic podcast by Ryan Holiday. Similar to the daily book, I particularly like the weekly deep dives that Ryan takes with another student of the Stoics. His interview with General Stanley McChrystal was particularly nerdtastic.

What’s on your list these days?

Friday Bucket Fillings

Being new is tough. Navigating the daily ins and outs yet standing on the balcony. Asking good questions but needing to provide answers. Learning how to communicate to be understood and to understand within this context. It can reach a saturation point sometimes. The bucket feels empty.

Enter today, after an amazing Klingenstein Chat last night and a good sleep, ready to tackle this gorgeous sun-filled day. Wondering what choices can I make today to keep re-filling the soul? Here are some of the choices…

Morning Carpool. (I do this every day but today was particularly special.) The first day of woolen hat wearing for me and it’s Green and Gold Day, so the spirit was flowing.

Lunch with Kindergarteners. “Come sit with us, Sarah!” Well, yes indeed. The discussion ranged from dogs, to the origin of the phrase sloppy joe (Who is Joe and why is he sloppy?), to “my hypothesis about that is…”

Visiting Big Kid Lunch. “Sarah, can you sit with us?” Of course!! Getting to share all about how I got here, hearing some hilarious jokes, and listening to one amazing old lady character voice.

Walking by Recess. Two friends taking turns on the swing with gentle pushing back and forth. As if no cares in the world exist.

Sitting outside to do the grown up paperwork. On top of taking in this picture perfect first day of October…child walks up with teacher. She has established a well constructed thesis for petitioning for the removal of sloppy joe day complete with a quorum of signatures and thoughtful dialogue among her peers. I offered feedback and she is ready to prepare her proposal. (Yes, student voice!) Then, seeing one of my PK friends with her tiger creation and best tiger voice. Oh, yeah.

Popping into 5th Grade PE. An intense game of rocket ship vs. aliens is in play. Of course, I grab a rocket ship and join in on the fun while getting an intense HIIT workout. (Don’t tell my chiropractor!)

Walking Mtg. My Division Head brothers and I took our weekly meeting on the trails. We connected and grappled and continued to intentionally build our team while take advantage of our 140 acre campus.

All School Pep Rally. When the AD calls you to the field for a game, you do a cartwheel and get pumped for whatever is asked! Pizza tag with Seniors was amazing and my competitor side got to come out. Next time, proper shoes!

This is the why, friends. Connecting with and experiencing childhood with the children. Letting authentic relationship building to usurp deadlines. The grown up time and grappling and constant motion are worth it for the dollops of visible fruition hitting the bucket. What an important part of the road today.

Newness is…

Looking back and realizing that I have not blogged since March. This is not surprising at all and yet, not indicative of any lack of reflection. I spent a good deal of time over the summer processing my Southern adventure and beginning anew in a very different school community. First time homeownership, reconnecting with old friends, soaking in every bit of my new school culture, and spending a lot of time at work has been time and energy well spent.

A new school and new leadership presents opportunities for many things, but one thing remains, being new is hard. As a new to the space leader, I want to simultaneously build community, create clarity, provide support, find optimal challenge, stay on the balcony, listen, and show off some good dance moves. Doing all of this is hard. In Tuckman’s stages, forming and storming are certainly the most challenging. Thoughtful, strategic, and empathetic decisions are necessary while at the same time, due to the realistic nature of schools, sometimes you’re just making on the fly decisions. Add to this the considerations of Quaker Leadership and Decision-Making and cognitive saturation can come fast!

Last week, a caterpillar friend found its way onto the railing outside our building. Caterpillars of all shapes and sizes and types are found regularly on our 140 acres, but this is the first time that I’ve ever seen on that truly looked like it came straight out of Eric Carle. It was the perfect metaphor for the most important thing I will undertake in a year of newness. This caterpillar was scoping out their surroundings and using all of their senses to find the path, when they started to stray towards the edge, I laid a finger down for gentle re-direction. It didn’t appear at first as though they had a plan, but they most assuredly did, as by the time carpool was over, they had moved onto their next adventure. The metaphor lies in the ability for this tiny creature to trust their senses, respond to re-direction, and stay the course. But additionally, how might we pause in awe and wonder to things around us? How might we have the curiosity to ask questions around us? And, as Kindergarten noted well, how might we ask for what we want and need?

So here I go, beginning a new with curiosity, wonder, response to feedback, staying the course, and trusting the process. May the teeniest of teachers never fail to guide.

Currents: Listens & Reads

It’s been a “hot minute” since I’ve shared some things I’ve been reading, listening to, and watching and with the end of Spring Break, now is a great moment to share and reflect. This is certainly in no way comprehensive of what I’ve explored since the last Currents over the summer—where have the last six months gone?!


Think Again by Adam Grant. This is hands-down my favorite of all of Adam Grant’s books. I think this one speaks to me the most as a naturally curious person. How might we hold our beliefs lightly enough to think again? And, this conversation between he and Angela Duckworth via Politics and Prose was like sitting at the dinner table after a great meal with friends. (But no coffee, since it is his one flaw in not enjoying it as a super taster.)

Caste by Isabel Wilkerson. A masterpiece. The tale of making parallels and connections between the caste system of India, the rise and reign of Nazi Germany, and White Supremacy and racism in the United States from the time of chattel slavery to present. A reorientation of systemic racism as America’s caste system. Equal parts history and thought provocation, and hard to put down.

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson. The newest middle grades work of art from Jacqueline Woodson. The painted pictures of life with CTE feel so relevant and the loving, vulnerable boyhood friendships are not often seen in this genre. A must read!

The Archer by Paulo Coelho. A short, but deep metaphor for leadership, learning, and the character qualities therein. From one of my favorite authors, this book will be a re-read.

Why SEL Alone isn’t Enough by Dena Simmons (ASCD-Educational Leadership)

“As we confront our country’s sin of racism, we must acknowledge that our nation’s schooling has always been an education in whiteness (Brooks & Theoharis, 2018), which manifests as textbooks lauding white heroes, excuses about too few “qualified” BIPOC teacher candidates, dress codes that criminalize Black hair, productivity over people, and well-meaning educators who correct Black diction but claim color-blindness. In this context, any curriculum, policy, or practice in our nation’s schools that is not deliberately and actively combating racism, bias, and oppression can easily be used as a weapon to put BIPOC students in their place.”


Unlocking Us with Brené Brown: Conversation with Emmanuel Acho on ˆUncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man. If you have seen his web series, you likely already know of the amazingness of Emmanuel Acho. I really enjoyed this conversation and the book just rose up on the stack.

Music of the Black Church (Spotify playlist) Having watched the PBS documentary The Black Church by Henry Louis Gates, I found myself craving to hear more of the music and because the internet is amazing, a playlist already existed.

Tumble Science Podcast for Kids: Music Meets Science What a wonderful episode weaving in breaking stereotypes, folk banjo, and genetics. A great family listen.


The Black Church PBS. The aforementioned documentary was two evenings of incredible learning for this self-declared church nerd. Dovetailing with my completion of the Sacred Ground training through The Episcopal Church and attending The Micah Project series through All Saints’ Episcopal Church, Atlanta, I find myself yearning to learn as much as I can about the history of the church.

The Fosters/Good Trouble HULU: Somehow I found Good Trouble on Hulu over winter break and devoured it before I realized it was the sequel to The Fosters. So I went back and watched that one, too. Yes, feel good family drama, but with very real story lines about juvenile justice, the foster system, sexuality, gender equity, substance abuse, you name it…this one runs the gamut. The Good Trouble series just entered its third season and is a little bit less cheese, a little bit unrealistic, but I really love the representation.

The Undoing HBOMax: Hugh Grant as a sociopath who still has his British affability…what more do I need to say? Honestly though Donald Sutherland is my favorite part of the whole show. And now I wait for season two.

On Deck

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together by Heather McGhee. Three chapters in and I’m currently obsessed

See No Stranger: A Memoir and Manifesto of Revolutionary Love by Valarie Kaur. Having heard Ms. Kaur speak time and time again, I finally obtained a copy of her book via the UK market since the US was sold out. I’m looking forward to learning more from her.

400 Souls: A Community History of African America ed by Ibram X. Kendi and Keisha Blain. After watching these two scholars in conversation with some of the 80 authors (and 10 poets) from the book, I am looking forward to digging into the real and relevant stories from each of the half decades since the beginning of the Trans-Atlantic slave trade.

What is on your shelf, playlist, or watch queue these days? Let me know!

a new adventure awaits…

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable.”–Helen Keller

I have grown accustomed to and welcome change as part of the stretching and growing of life. In all of the places my adventures have taken me, roots have grown quickly and attachments made. In the last six years of this journey, I have been saturated with the culture and customs of the Deep South. I have learned more about leadership, history, compassion, and perspective than I ever thought possible. These experiences have deepened my convictions in some areas and changed my mind in others. The South provided me a place to heal, to grow, to stitch together my heart, and build life-long relationships, both personally and professionally.

In the last year, my values and goals have continued to clarify. Physical separation from my extended family has taken its toll on my heart. Even while engaging in incredible leadership experiences through the pandemic and loving so much of my life and work in Atlanta, the yearning for home has won out. Through counsel, discernment, and beautiful twist of providence, I have the opportunity to go home and continue my learning and leadership journey.

In July of this year, I will take the helm of the Lower School at Sandy Spring Friends School. A school I have admired from afar for many years for its mission and commitment to progressive education, diversity and belonging, and incredible campus committed to creation stewardship. The opportunity to learn and grow with a new community all the while renewing my proximity to my beloved family is a gift I simply couldn’t have imagined.

simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality, stewardship

A more formal set of thoughts of gratitude for my southern adventure will come in due course. There is too much good work to be done before moving along (no lame ducks, here.) But as for now, I celebrate this bittersweet announcement with joy and thankfulness.

Leadership Lessons with Ted

If you haven’t yet checked out the comedic stylings of Jason Sudekis and company in the incredible show, Ted Lasso, please stop everything and watch! Not only has this show provided “spit milk through your nose” level laughter, but there are also some serious takeaways for leaders. While Brené Brown cataloged quite a bit in her Unlocking Us Interview, here are just a few lessons I learned from Ted.

Ted: I’m not exactly sure what y’all’s smallest unit of measurement is over here, but that’s about how much headway I made.

Change takes time and often the teeniest steps feel laborious. Being a change maker can’t always been measured in immediate results. Nuance matters.

Hey, takin’ on a challenge is a lot like ridin’ a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doin’ it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.

Change and challenge force us to lean into situations of discomfort. While we we want to provide spaces for psychological safety, we have to model healthy risks for our teams and for our students. I had a former boss once give me counsel, “if you’ve made everyone happy, you’re doing it wrong.”

You beating yourself up is like Woody Allen playing the clarinet. I don’t want to hear it.

Being the leader can be lonely and hard. While we make concerted efforts to provide affirmation and emotional support for our teachers and students, it is not a regular part of our receiving list. I also tend to be someone who wears my heart on the outside–I consider this a positive trait, but it does mean that I might self-flagellate just a little more than the next gal. Beating ourselves up doesn’t help us move forward.

for the love of meghan markle, do not blow that whistle again…

The one gave me quite the chuckle, but…as leaders we need to know when to call uncle. If we keep blowing our whistle and not getting results, we need to look for a new path, a fresh perspective, or a new set of rules.

be curious, not judgmental…ted lasso or maybe walt whitman?!

They say this quote is attributed to Walt Whitman, but I’ll happily attach it to Ted. Regardless, this is perhaps the most profound scene in the first season of the series. I won’t give it away because I really think you should watch the show. (If you must google-it’s the darts scene.) It is so easy to be quick to judge, no matter the scenario, but I’ve found that curiosity makes fantastic inroads for understanding another person or tackling a problem. Leadership + Design uses the phrase ‘be more curious than certain’ which I steal regularly. I am not the expert, but I will always be in pursuit of learning.

Ted Lasso has a persistent optimism that is both realistic and visionary. If our circumstances in the last eight months have taught us nothing (ha!), they have certainly taught us that optimism that is balanced with practicality and curiosity is going to get us through these turbulent times. Oh, and shortbread doesn’t hurt either.

Ted Lasso' Renewed for Season 2 at Apple TV+ — Jason Sudeikis Comedy |  TVLine
Ted has your back.