The Audacity to Be Optimistic

Jason Roseberry - President, Five Star Technology Solutions

Written by Dr. Jason Roseberry
Five Star Technology Solutions

I want to just take a moment and congratulate all of our friends and partners who are so close to finishing one of the most challenging years in school history.  I say “so close”, because, as a former educator and administrator, I know how much of an undertaking those last few days can be.  As I reflect back, I am amazed at how optimistic I was every year leading up to December only to have my rose-colored glasses end up cracked and laying on the floor just a few steps in the door.  As a teacher, the December experience was akin to a marathon where everyone starts sprinting right at the start.  By the time we would reach the end of the first-semester locker cleanout, I was narrowly avoiding throwing 6th graders hand over fist into rolling dumpsters as we desperately attempted to clear our mountains of worksheets, notebooks, and passed notes.

As an administrator, I recall emerging from the school’s rear entrance towards the bus line at the end of a December day to feel the sun cascade on my face in what can only be described as a spiritual cleansing from the hectic pace and raw emotions inside.  The bus drivers would be waiting for me for our usual chat and I would typically rotate between a couple of phrases such as, “Living the dream” or “Just trying to keep a lid on it.” 

The truth is that December in schools is rough no matter how much you prepare or how hard you try.  Some kids suddenly start to care about their grades after four months.  Some kids start acting out with big feelings because the holidays aren’t a fun time in their homes.  Some kids who have been rock solid all year long start crashing and burning because they just can’t keep the wheels on during the home stretch.  December is rough in schools, but no matter where those kids are or what they are dealing with, our educators and leaders meet them wherever they are.  Even after they have been sprinting from the blocks, they pick those kids up and carry them across the finish line.  As you know, it is the most predictable and most inspiring thing you will ever see in a school building in December.

And that’s a normal December.  Obviously, the past two years have been anything but normal.

If 2020 was the party that we really didn’t want to attend, then 2021 has been the obligatory clean-up. 

While battling the same pandemic from the year before, our educators and school leaders have also figured out how to run a successful quarantine, navigate unexpected political/community challenges, and remediate students who have fallen more than a year behind grade level.  This is the metaphorical equivalent of running the “usual” marathon backward and blindfolded.

My wife recently recommended a podcast to me called Waiting for Impact by Dave Holmes. If you grew up in the ’80s and early ’90s and/or are a big fan of the Boyz II Men’s MoTownPhilly video, then I highly recommend you give it a listen.  While the backdrop is a fascinating dive into the Michael Bivins’ East Coast Family, the theme of the podcast is actually all about perseverance, high hopes, and, yes, audacity.  Most of us have heard the word audacious used by Jim Collins in “Built to Last” in reference to a BHAG (Big-Hairy-Audacious Goal).  The “A” in BHAG is in reference to picking a goal that defies the odds for success.

What could be more audacious than getting up every morning in the middle of a pandemic and rededicating yourself to meeting every single kid where they are and giving them what they need to accomplish whatever version of success you have in mind?  Who can return home after eight hours of partial victories and losses and be there for their loved ones in a meaningful way?  Who dares to get up the next day and do it all over again?  Who do these beautiful and audacious people think they are anyway?

At Five Star, we know these folks are our partners, our heroes, and our friends.  We are constantly in awe of your audacity and, as always, we stand ready to serve as a catalyst for innovation so you can be empowered to achieve whatever vision of excellence makes sense for your students.  Whether you need advice on a network issue, guidance on professional learning goals, or a plan for visualizing data in a more effective way, we are proud to be your trusted partner.  After all, Five Star’s vision is for technology to be used in meaningful ways so all students can dream bigger

What could be more audacious than that?