Thursday, April 2, 2015

April 2 - The Ripple Effect of a Visionary

The recommended topic for today's #AprilBlogADay is about the ripple effect of something I have done.  However, I just can't seem to write about that, not because I don't want to but because of an announcement that has taken over my thoughts.

Yesterday Kentucky Education Commissioner Terry Holliday announced that he will be retiring on August 31.  Immediately, the panic set in on Twitter, FaceBook, texts, phone calls, emails, and teacher conversations.

Will Common Core be stripped away?

Will teacher career pathways dissolve?

What is going to happen to PGES?

Will Kentucky no longer be in the forefront of education in the U.S.?

This panic is valid because Dr. Holliday is no ordinary Education Commissioner; he is a visionary, a leader, a man with a strong growth mindset! Anyone who has been in the same room as him can feel his leadership radiating.

I have been honored since 2012 to serve on Dr. Holliday's Teacher Advisory Council.  I will tell you that this type of TAC is uncommon in the U.S.  When I mention TAC to colleagues outside of Kentucky, they are intrigued; many states don't have one.  Why are we so unique? Dr. Holliday is a former teacher and knows how critical teacher voice is to student improvement and systemic change.  The voices of all the teachers on the Council are heard and validated.  I have seen some of my recommendations come into fruition.

I will never forget the first face-to-face TAC meeting I attended.  A month prior I was named 2013 KY Elementary Teacher of the Year.  This earned me a seat two chairs away from Dr. Holliday at our roundtable.  I felt his energy!  During the meeting there was a presentation that involved some advanced calculations and statistics that was confusing some of us.  Immediately, Dr. Holliday stood up, walked over to chart paper, switched his commissioner hat around to teacher hat, and started explaining to each of us how to interpret what we were seeing.  It became obvious to me then: Dr. Holliday is first and foremost an educator!

I say that Dr. Holliday is a visionary because it appears to me that he is always thinking 5 years ahead.  When you hear him talk, read his blog, or watch the presentation of KDE staff, it is apparent that Dr. Holliday is always one step ahead of us. He can already see where Kentucky is heading and leads everyone down that path.  This is why Kentucky is in the forefront of Common Core implementation.  This is why Kentucky continues to receive ESEA waivers. He has a vision and knows how to get us there!

One can understand why educators are concerned about what will happen to Kentucky's education system once he retires.  However, I have a strong feeling that because he has touched so many lives and has a strong team of leaders and educators working at the Department that Kentucky will remain strong.  Each and every one of has has felt the impact of Dr. Holliday's vision and determination as it ripples throughout the state and the nation.

There will never be another Dr. Holliday, and whoever takes over will have huge shoes to fill. However, the ripples made by Dr. Holliday are so powerful they will continue to expand and never end.

Thank you Dr. Holliday for your 40 years of service to education and by touching my life with your vision!

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