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Dec 6, 2008

The Year of the Bear

One of the highlights of my week was the gift wrapping party, organized by Susan and Jenni. A few early childhood students and some faculty first collected Christmas gift for children, and then wrapped them. Parents who lack the money for the holiday can just get these, so kids do not left without a gift. It felt great, and we had much fun. I must confess, a part of me immediately started to worry: not enough students are involved, and how can we make these important experiences available to more of the future teachers. Well, Susan set me straight – you cannot always focus on improvements; you must be able to appreciate what we are doing right.

And she is right, of course. Many people have some professional deformations. For example, school teachers tend to explain everything to everyone, sometimes the simplest things, and do it at length. Administrators like me tend to look for improvements, and therefore focus on problems to be solved. But it is also important to appreciate and acknowledge what we have accomplished, and continue doing right. There is the deep reason for the Thanksgiving Day to exist. It is a chance to appreciate what we have, so it is not all about complaining and improving. For example, it was just so gratifying to see over a hundred elementary and early childhood students at their student teaching orientation meeting. Sharp, cool, and prepared, they will become someone's favorite teacher, and change many lives. We just completed a complicated multi-stage program revision and transition – not without screw-up, but also without any major disasters. The first Early Childhood cohort will student-teach in the Spring. The first Secondary Postbac cohort will do the same. Our Longmont Reading cohort will wrap up this Summer; an LDE cohort will start in January. And all our existing programs are strong and growing. We just hired two more good people, and will try to hire two more. I am deeply grateful to all our faculty and staff for making all of this possible.

And then there is the gift-wrapping party. It is perhaps the most important of all developments. Our first step was to become a professional community that can work well together. The next challenge is to become a community that has a larger purpose beyond simply professional one. We are strong enough to take on more. We can give our students the best of all gifts – an opportunity and the ability to give. We also need to remember, that many people have very hard time right now, and for the time being, we are more or less safe from the recession. We still have jobs, and those are good, secure jobs. It's our turn to help. This is why I think we should focus on our nascent Bear Hug project, elect its governing board, create some plans, and generally get it moving.

Therefore, by the authority given to me or usurped, I declare 2009 the Year of the Bear, contrary to the Chinese calendar assigning it to Ox.

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