It’s hard to believe we officially turned 1 year old on February 28!
As we reflect back on this past year, we are amazed and humbled at the passion and hunger with which Impact Florida has been embraced by practitioners, leaders, and other important education stakeholders. Not only did we establish our mission, values, and a number of bodies of work (such as Districts for Impact and the Impact Florida Education Summit) that matched those goals, but we are most excited at the feedback we are hearing from people saying they believe we are at the beginning of a journey to make a real difference – a journey they want to take with us.
We love when we bump into learning experiences in life that serve as both “a mirror and a window,” to use the words of our Palm Beach Learning Cadre members as they described their goals and the content students should encounter. Engagements, in other words, that allow you to see who you are and that better enable you to see others. That’s what this year has been for us, and we’d love to share a few of those key lessons:
1) In a place Mandy once worked, she often walked by an African proverb prominently placed on the wall: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” It seeped into her consciousness and became a useful mental tool for this otherwise Type-A doer. But this year, we both experienced its more expansive truth. Before Impact Florida ever came into existence, we had spent two years exploring ideas with a number of partners to address gaps in the education landscape., . We could have rushed it. But we’re so glad we didn’t. Our first year has been one of tremendous growth and the immediate ability to support education leaders in the ways we had hoped to: in partnership with other organizations.
2) It’s also important to acknowledge that there’s even more we could have done in our first year but chose not to. We chose, for example, a role of thought partnership and analysis around the discussion about updating Florida’s standards, because we want to lead by amplifying the voices of practitioners and not necessarily just our own. This is because we want to go together with others toward our goals, and we know that there are so many other pieces of the puzzle, that matter too – things like the Five Conditions that Support Great Teaching. We have our eyes on the long game, because that’s what it will take to close equity gaps and ultimately help students the most.
3) The last lesson we’d share is the one that touches our hearts the most. It’s how incredible the people – the human capital that powers Florida’s education system – truly are. We have felt so privileged to get to know and learn from the teams that make up our Districts for Impact cadre, from the Teachers of the Year, from the educators and principals whose classrooms and schools we’ve had the opportunity to observe. The long hours, the late-night drives across the state to learn from others, the constant hunger to improve…the incredible dedication we have witnessed in these leaders…has humbled us to the core.
We are looking forward to telling the stories of these amazing leaders, which we had hoped to do at our 2020 Impact Florida Education Summit that would have taken place in two weeks. Even though it is postponed (stay tuned for the new date!) the work of these same amazing leaders has not been put on hold. They are all now actively leading emergency management and contingency planning, while they keep all the other plates spinning to ensure that the children they serve have uninterrupted access to a great education.
So we dedicate the celebration of Impact Florida’s first birthday to all the leaders we have had the privilege of learning from, serving, and supporting. We will tell their stories, and invite you to stay tuned on how we do that, leading up to our new Summit date. And we invite you to join us as our journey continues. Here’s to many more years working together for the students of Florida!