Posts Tagged ‘supervisor’

Sixteen years ago, I had the opportunity of a lifetime when a congregation recruited me to their Education Director.  I remember telling the Rabbi who headed up the search committee that this could be the worst choice of his life.  Little did I know that accepting the decision would be one of the best decisions in my life.

At the time, I had little or no supervisory experience in a school setting; although I had been a unit head at numerous girls’ camps and a lead teacher for a large Religious School in another state.  I was also a mother; with one infant and a nearly four year old.  I was young and the synagogue had decided to replace the education director who had been running their school for over 17 years.  All of the teachers had worked under their director for over a decade.  Let’s just say, I probably wasn’t in the best position to be directing this school.

In truth, I learned more about people in this job than I had ever learned before that time.  Being cocky did nothing to help me succeed or maybe it did, you decide.  Fortunately, I have always been full of ideas on how to propel my programs forward.  Sometimes I have been blessed when committees, staff, parents, and students that join me in this journey, sometimes not.  In this case, the Rabbi and the Education Committee were amazing.  The teachers, loved teaching, but they would have preferred having another director.

After just a few months, I thought I could tell these teachers how to do their work. I must have had serious attitude, but I don’t remember.  What I do remember is the day, I had a staff meeting planned with a tight agenda.   I remember walking into the room to start the meeting when all of the teachers literally crossed their arms and told me exactly how they felt about my presence in this world.  They were not happy with me or my bubbly energy.  They were teachers that were set in their ways and while they weren’t fabulous for the most part, they were loving and still offered their students phenomenal education.  Many of them had been teaching as long as I had been alive or at least a couple of decades.

When I allowed them the space to express themselves (like I had a choice), I humbled by their dedication and their ability to reach out and let me know their thoughts.  And for my part, I listened; I truly heard their ideas, their pain at losing their previous administrator, and their years of experience.  I was awed how they were able to evolve from anger to warmth.  I was willing to do a dance with them; I was willing to hear their words and their wisdom.  In return, they allowed me to bring my youthful bubbly energy into their world.

When I left the position 18 months later, I was profoundly sad to go.  I had learned so much from working with an incredibly talented community full of ideas and spirit; I loved the rabbi, and did not want to move to a new state, but my family was moving, so it was time to move with them.  When I left that position, all of the teachers were crying as was I.  Each had given me a really special gift from their hearts, but my favorite came from my most difficult critic.  One teacher made me the below picture that has stayed with me as a reminder to stay strong, but to always keep sacred space to hear the wisdom of others even as I seek my own journey on the path I am traveling.


To look at something as though we had never seen it before, requires great courage. ~Henri Matisse

As an educator, a mother, a writer, and a human being, I pray for the wisdom and the creativity to navigate the world fuller as the seeker that I am.

With love, light, and blessings,

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