What can I say about Pam? She was a teacher, innovator, leader and friend whose absence will be felt long after she is gone. A few months ago she announced that she would be leaving our world and heading to the next phase of life. The news was met with anger and bitterness that has given way to grief and sadness.
The beauty of Pam and her work is that it will live on long after she is gone. It will live on in the leadership team that she nurtured and fostered. The academic leaders she trained and empowered will keep the building moving with positive momentum for years to come. In addition, the countless teachers that she guided and trained to be better than they were or ever thought they could be.
Teachers who had the honor or working with her knew the expectations were high. That is not to say she expected good test scores and high achieving grades. That was not her goal. She wanted every child that walked through her doors to have an experience fit for her own two daughters. Every child that sat in a desk in her school was part of a family and that was priority one. Teachers knew this expectation and worked to provide the best possible learning and personal experience possible and never settled for anything less.
Innovation was not a buzz word for her, but a way of living. She challenged staff and students to always be looking for a better way to learn, teach and grow. She never settled for, “that is the way things have always been done” and always challenged us to be better. As a result, new programs came into existence to help students with reading and math. Days such as Innovation Day were supported and encouraged. Unique scheduling and team teaching flourished. All of these moves were made with one goal in mind. Do what is right for kids. Students and teacher’s felt safe to try something new and failure was supported as a learning tool.
Even as I say all of these nice things about Pam, she was not loved by all who worked with her. Some lazy teachers were not happy with her constant pushing and high expectations. Other teachers that liked things the way they were are happy to see her go and will attempt to go back to their old ways. Some parents are happy with her departure as well. These are the parents that like to call and yell at teachers about grades, curriculum and a whole host of athletic related issues. But for those of us that truly “got it”, her legacy will live on and we will continue to hold high expectations and will refuse to take one step backwards.
Many would think Pam was a micro manager that oversaw every little detail of her school but that was not the case. She stepped back and gave the power to her teachers and her students. She knew who to stand close to and who to give some room to work. The truly remarkable part of her leadership was that she allowed others in her building to be leaders. Through thoughtful conversations and actions, many of which went unnoticed, Pam created an environment where it was encourage to step up and be great for kids and for each other. She celebrated the good and never settled for less than the best for the students and staff in her school.
As Pam leaves us, countless inspired and empowered teachers are left in her wake. Families that she touched through her work and the work of her staff will be forever grateful. Her true influence will live on far after she is gone and her true impact is something that is near impossible to put into words.
Pam graced our school and our community and ultimately she graced the lives of those who knew her and worked with her.
For those all too literal readers, Pam is not dead. She is simply leaving our school to grace the halls of a new school in the fall and surely continue doing great work there.