One of my professional goals this year was to get back to blogging. I begin blogging a few years ago, but in my first two years as principal of Brenham Elementary, I found myself so engrossed in learning the role and ensuring that I could do and be everything that our staff and district needed, I spent a great deal of time reflecting in my own head, but very little reflecting in written format. It was something I was definitely missing and something that I set a goal to pursue this year. I never imagined that my first foray into reigniting my blogging goal would be 6 months into the new school year and involve reflecting on the two years I spent as principal, and my decision to walk away from this long-sought-after endeavor.
For as long as I can remember, I had set my sights on becoming a principal. I believed that I could make a greater impact and use my passions for coaching and supporting teachers and students on a larger scale to impact student achievement and explore my passion for growing leaders. But I’ve also had a realization that you can shoot for a goal, accomplish it, and then decide it is not for you. Maybe it’s because it’s not the right time, or the right place, but it also could be because it’s not the right job. I didn’t make the decision to walk away from the dream I have had for many years lightly. It is an exciting and scary prospect to re-evaluate a dream, and in the past 6 months, I have regularly said that it’s time, again, to figure out what I’m going to be when I grow up!
Being a principal is one of the most all-consuming jobs I have ever experienced. It is a 24/7 365 commitment and, while highly rewarding, is one of the most emotionally taxing jobs I have ever tackled. Feeling personally responsible for hundreds and hundreds of people, knowing their stories, feeling their joys and pains, and solving a vast array of problems minute to minute is something that is difficult to explain. If you are someone who likes to give 110% to everything that you do as I always have, finding a balance between giving 110% to a campus and community and district that desperately need that level of commitment while still managing to give the same level of focus and commitment to your family can be quite a balancing act. The job literally consumed me. If I wasn’t there, I was thinking about being there and I found, when I was with my family, I still really wasn’t with them. Add to that enormity that the position is in a completely different town almost an hour away and in a vastly different system than I had known my entire life, and it made for a challenging endeavor. But I have always loved a challenge. I gave my all, every day, pouring my heart and soul and passion into supporting the students and staff of Brenham Elementary to reach new goals. And we did. The changes in our culture and accomplishments of our students could be seen daily.
As a principal, I consistently told my staff that family must come first, and in this scenario, I had to walk my own talk. It was one of the difficult decisions I have ever had to make but after much prayer and consideration, I do believe that it is what was best for all involved. Brenham Elementary and my family both deserved the best I had to give, and if the best I have to give can’t be given in both places, it was time to consider that I might not be equipped in that moment at that time to do both in the way that they needed to be done.
So, after two years with the most amazing staff on the planet, I chose to resign my position and take a leap of faith out into the world, unsure of my next steps. I was excited about the possibility of what could be to come, but most importantly, excited about being able to give the most important people in my life what they so richly deserved, a mother and a wife who can be focused on them and what is needed in our home. As a principal, you are often a jack of all trades and a master of none, so I was also excited about the possibility of eventually sinking in to one area and developing expertise in that area. Although I definitely identified areas of being a principal that I loved more than others, the possibility of being open to so many opportunities is exciting and a little bit frightening. But, as always, I believed God had a plan for me in my life and this was a step in that plan.
I am eternally grateful for all the people I have come in contact with, those who have also walked the talk, those who have been genuine and authentic about who they are and what they believe and who have backed that up with actions to the last minute. I am thankful for the friendships developed with so many Brenham ISD Staff who not only supported, but celebrated, my decision to put my family first and who took the time to make my last few weeks a time of love and reflection and support even though it certainly made their lives more difficult. I am also thankful for so many staff members who came to say goodbye, to give well wishes and drop sweet and thoughtful gifts and hugs, and to remind me that I have to put family first just as I have always asked them to do. I am thankful for those who continue to reach out via text, Voxer, Facebook, Twitter, Christmas cards and more to say “hi, I’m thinking about you, I miss you, here’s something great that happened with a student or in my life today.” You leave places, not people and so many have made an indelible imprint on my life.
So what’s next? First, I waited. Whew – that part is hard. I prayed. That part is necessary. I reflected. That part can be cathartic and painful and comforting and infuriating. I cried. That part was with joy for what was to come and with sorrow for what was lost. Most importantly, I soaked in every minute of life with my family. We laughed and played – I did “Mom things” like organizing mum-making for the drill team and co-chairing the Senior Swim Team events. I ran carpools and took my youngest to school every day. I had lunch with dear friends in the middle of the day and helped my sister when my niece needed to be picked up at school. I built a website for the photography that I have done for friends and family on the side for years (Check it out at tylersheridanphotography.com).
I helped a friend create content for her small business. I thanked God for these precious children who God entrusted to me and who took our new lifestyle in stride with maturity and grace. And finally, I stood in awe of my God who blesses me daily with the most amazing husband who gave me the courage to step out in faith and who supported me both emotionally and, literally, financially while I unraveled and re-spooled my life. This new future looks nothing like the past, but it is oh so good.
For the professional part of my life….after much prayer and reflection, I followed God’s lead, and ended up right where He intended me to be. My new role as an Assistant Director of Human Resources for Cypress-Fairbanks ISD is a new dream come true. It is the perfect mix of professional challenge while allowing me the personal balance I need and crave.
I regret no steps in this journey, and while I was deeply saddened to leave behind people I care so much about and a school and community where we did great work and where great work will inevitably continue, I will never, ever regret the decision to put my family first.
Here’s to 2020…new adventures and living our best life!