I’ve Got a Secret

The district in which I work as a Vice-Principal is a large, complex and diverse district.  We have 124 schools (100 elementary, 19 secondary, and 5 student learning centres) with 69,145 students.  That number is expected to grow by at least 1000 students this fall (like it seems to each fall). The diversity makes this district to be a wonderful place to be. There are so many opportunities and ways to further your own learning as an educator and leader.

My new assignment is at a school which is different from the others I’ve worked at as Vice-Principal.  The first school I was assigned to 6 years ago was in a middle-upper class neighbourhood. My second assignment was at a school in a solid working class neighbourhood (I think that’s what you’d call it) where the families worked very hard and respected all that the school offered their family.  My next assignment is in a school that receives Inner City funding by our government.

Inner City funding is based upon a variety of factors, which include, but are not limited to, socio-economic status of the residents, number of students in care of the Ministry of Families (Foster Care, for instance), and the number of single-parent families. There are a variety of different levels  of Inner City funding given to schools based on those (and other) factors.  Our school is in a middle level of Inner City funding, meaning there are some schools which receive more inner city funding, and some school which receive less.

When I knew that I was going to be receiving another assignment, I asked to be placed in an Inner City school.  While I have worked for approximately 17 years in my district, I’ve never worked at a school of this nature. Now, one may think (or laugh), “Boy, she’s really in for it!”

Well, the thing is, I’ve got a bit of a secret.

I was one of those children!  I grew up in areas and I went to schools (8 different schools by the time I graduated high school) which would have been given Inner City funding, if it existed when I went to school.  I grew up in an environment that many would have considered a hinderance for my future success.  I am the first person in my family to ever graduate from high school, let alone work to obtain two degrees.  It can (and does) happen.

I am here to say that we must not give up on these kids. We must be there for them!  We need to build long-lasting relationships with these children (and their teachers) and find ways to support them as individuals.

So, as I prepare myself for the new school year and my new school, I am doing a great deal of reflecting and a great deal of reading.  While I knew I wanted to blog about my new assignment and my connection to it as a learner, I wasn’t quite sure when I would tackle this subject.   I read the following article the other day and it is what made me write about this topic now.  It’s time.

Take a look a look at the article…

Fostering Resilience: ALL Kids Have a Future | Connected Principals.

In addition to reading articles I find online, I am also reading Ruby Payne’s book, A Framework for Understanding Poverty. I’m sure that I will be blogging some of my reflections while I read this book.

While I am sure what I read will likely help get me in the right frame of mind, I don’t think anything will be as helpful as my personal experience, my heart and my love of kids and my commitment to their learning.

I look forward to really making a difference at my new school, with the students, their families, the teachers, and the support staff.

About Tia M. Dawson

There are many things that define who I am as a person. First of all, I am a mother of 3 wonderful children! I can not express how fortunate we are to have our children in our life! Secondly, I am an elementary educator who recently returned to the classroom after 12+ years as an elementary school administrator. Lastly, I am passionate about helping others, learning about abuse, helping others in abusive relationships, and helping others understand their worth.
This entry was posted in Leading the Learning, Lessons Learned, Poverty and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to I’ve Got a Secret

  1. Chris Wejr says:

    I read Payne’s book as a first year VP as I was moving from a middle class, white school to a school that struggles with poverty.

    The key point that I remember is based on “access”. As a middle class person, I can access many things because I follow the middle class rules that have been taught to me. I also have access to resources in which I can borrow from or work harder to get.

    This book should be a must read for every educator. I look forward to your posts on this.

    • T. Henriksen says:

      Thanks for your comment, Chris. Yes, I am looking forward to reading it.
      Growing up in poverty, gives me a bit of a different perspective. Unlike you, I find myself trying to figure out the “middle class” rules you mentioned.
      Still don’t know if I’ve figured them out.

  2. Lyn Hilt says:

    This book was recommended to me by a parent. Thanks for writing this post, it reminded me I need to get reading!

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