Facing New Beginnings with Courage


Although it’s only August, school started last week for Atlanta Public Schools and I’m settling into the new routine at home and work. At home, this is a big year for us as Franky, our first-born, enters his senior year. I’m feeling lots of emotions—sadness, excitement, anxiety—about his pending graduation and the fact that he’ll be headed to college soon. We feel the ground shifting under our family unit of four and are trying to stay steady as this inevitable and ultimately desirable change happens. At work, Achieve Atlanta is entering its fourth year in existence and we’ve got some big initiatives planned this year to help support the thousands of APS students and graduates we want to see earn their degree. We’ve learned a ton about the barriers our students face, the practices that work, and the big rocks we have to move to clear the path for our students’ success. It’s all very exciting and I feel a nervous energy about getting my own kid and all the kids we serve to the transformative milestone of enrolling in college.

Given all of this, it was great to have the opportunity to attend the Resnick Action Forum two weeks ago. The 3-day annual conference is hosted by the Aspen Institute and people from all over the world, across multiple sectors, convene in the startlingly beautiful setting of Aspen, Colorado to reflect on how to make our world a better place. This year’s theme was Fearless Leadership. We read and discussed multiple writings on the theme and looked inward to figure out how to cultivate our own courage as we work to foster the good society for all.

For me, my big takeaways from the conference were that first, having courage does not mean that you have no fear. It means that you fear-less, and you don’t let your fear stand in the way of acting. Second, courage doesn’t always require action. Sometimes, you must be still and relinquish control, which can definitely be scary. And finally, and most importantly, we are bravest, and strongest, when we are in community.

As I enter this new school year and new season in my life, I’ll continue to reflect on what it means to lead fearlessly and work to be courageous for and with those around me.

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