Celebrating strength and resilience

Dennis Sparks

I have found myself thinking this morning about the tens of thousands of school leaders welcoming, comforting, and supporting their school communities as they return from a somber weekend of grieving and reflection after Friday’s unfathomable tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

My thoughts turned to a 92-year-old hospice patient with whom I had spent yesterday afternoon.

She told me that her life had taught her about the importance of celebration, noting that even a dreary afternoon, like the one we were peering out into, could be toasted with a glass of wine, which she happened to have near at hand as we spoke.

School leadership is about supporting the community as it grapples with difficult issues, like loss and sadness and fear. It is also about celebrating what the school community is and what it can be.

Such leadership requires listening deeply and compassionately to what is in the hearts and minds of community members.

It also requires focusing the community on the strengths it possesses and the resilience that has carried it through other challenging times.

I am confident that such conversations are occurring in schools across the country.

At such moments I am especially proud to be a part of the education profession.


3 Responses to “Celebrating strength and resilience”

  1. 1 G. Michael Abbott December 17, 2012 at 9:53 am

    I too am proud of the education profession. The professionalism of Newtown’s staff should silence the teacher-bashing by privatizers for awhile. Today educators all over the country are grappling with the “what-if’s” of the horror in Newtown. Maybe THIS time we will move toward solutions to gun and mental health issues. Thanks, Dennis.


  2. 2 Wardinski, Paul A. December 17, 2012 at 10:05 am

    Thank you for all of your blogs, thoughts, books, etc, but I really enjoyed this one this morning! It is a tough day and reading your words helped.

    These are the days I miss being in a school building. I felt I had more impact on days like today and any “normal” day.


    Paul A. Wardinski
    Office of Professional and Life Skills
    Instructional Services Department
    3877 Fairfax Ridge Road
    Fairfax, VA 22030

    • 3 Dennis Sparks December 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

      I understand, Paul, why it is difficult for you to be away from a school today because of your new responsibilities. And I’m sure your presence is missed there as well.

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