Do you Open or Close Doors?

As a principal, each year I try to choose a theme or focus to guide our work through the year. Last year we focused on our why and made connections through teaching and learning. This year, as I thought about how to present our school data, I wanted to be mindful to celebrate our growth, while also using the data to inform our next steps. As spring turned into summer, my mind flipped through different ideas, until I landed on “opening doors.”

This past summer I traveled to different locations across the country from locally to the east and west coasts. Typically I have grand notions of running while on vacation and honestly I never do. I pack my running clothes, sneakers, and everything one would need for a good run. This summer was different, I actually ran. And that’s when it hit me. As I ran, I started to notice doors on new and old buildings, on houses, on apartments, on barns, on offices and businesses, on abandon houses, on trailers and cars. As I became overtly in tune to the doors I started to wonder, what stories lie behind them? Are there school age scholars? Do they have their basic needs met? Do they like school? What are their hopes and dreams? What support do they get from their family? Do they live with both of their parents? Are they safe?

Mile after mile I noticed doors. To tell our story and help teachers understand what each of our scholars face each  day, I took pictures. All of the doors were beautiful and had a unique story, some presented more opportunities than others. One door was chained and padlocked closed. I wondered what had happened. I wondered if everyone was safe. Another door was shiny and orange, neat and tidy. I wondered if everyone was safe? Door after door, I wondered about the stories, about the scholars and families that live there.

Using these pictures, my staff and I have started dialogue around opening doors for every one of our scholars. Every year we make a promise to our parents and families to provide for and help support every scholar. This year we are doing everything possible to open doors for all of our scholars, no matter what. We will look at locked doors as opportunities.

When you face a challenge, do you open or close the door? What would our schools look like if we all committed to opening doors for all scholars no matter what?


Jen Robinson

Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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