My Life and Legacy

6009543353_4c5f22aa96We attended our final Digital Sandbox for Administrators session this past week.  Our Deputy Superintendent, Jordan Tinney, led four blogging session for administrators this year, as part of our Digital Sandbox series for our administrators in our district.  This was the final blogging session and was meant to celebrate all the wonderful learning and sharing happening around us and between us. To widen the influence, and to introduce the concept of blogging to others, all bloggers in our district were invited and then encouraged to bring a friend.  We were to bring anyone who may be interested in blogging, interested in learning about others, or just interested in learning a bit about this new culture “out there”.

We had a George Couros (@gcouros), a friend of #sd36learn who visits our district regularly, come as a guest to help facilitate the blogging session.  During the session, we were challenged to reflect upon and share our answers to a number of questions.  You can see these questions and a storify on each of the answers here on fellow passionate educator Joe Tong’s blog. (@teacherTong).

Our final challenge was to answer the following questions:

Why did you become an educator?  

What do you want your legacy to be?


  • So, why did I become an educator?

Looking back, when I was younger, I would never have believed I would be able to accomplish what I have accomplished thus far in my life.  I never thought it would be possible for someone with my background to be able to accomplish what I have.

While I can truly say I have enjoyed every job I had, including flipping hamburgers at Burger King in Grade 11,  filling donuts at Tim Horton’s in Grade 12, and another 8 years of serving customers at Boston Pizza and ABC Family Restaurant. But, I never thought I would find a career that I was truly passionate about. A career where I could truly make a difference each and every day in the lives (and future) of children and the educators who support and nurture their learning.

Growing up, for me, school was a safe place for me to be. I spent a great deal of time in and around the school during after-school hours. I saw school, education, if you will, as an opportunity to move forward, to find my way (a place no one in my family had).  For me, school signified hope. Possibility. A break of a cycle.

I wanted to make a difference in the lives of kids.

I wanted to be a part of a school where kids could come to school and have a positive experience.

I wanted school to provide an opportunity for students to see what is possible. I knew that I could have a positive role in that.

I wanted to make a real difference in the lives of children – particularly those whom others may have “given up on”.

I knew that these are things I wanted to have impact on, however, I didn’t really realize the depth of my desire for this to happen, until I started to work at my current elementary school.  It was here that I saw students whom I could really relate to in so many ways:

Students who may have had a difficult home-life.

Students who may have difficulty believing in the possibilities of their future.

Students who may have come from some difficult situations at home.

It was seeing these kids, learning about the families, learning about their stories, making connections with my own upbringing when I started to really understand my need to be an educator. It is then that I truly understood the impact I could have. It was then that I truly understood my passion and need to contribute. It was then that I started to believe in myself  (however strange that might sound).


  • What do I want my legacy to be?


What do I want left once I am gone?

I long to ensure each of us has someone at school who they know believes in them. As Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser write in Spirals of Inquiry: For Equity and Quality, one of they key questions our students to be able to answer in the affirmative is, “Can you name two people in this school/setting who believe that you can be a success in life.” (pg. 38). I want to be one of those two people who our students (and educators) necessary to help “build in a needed protective factor for learners who struggle.” (pg. 38).  I want students to truly believe that they can achieve what they never thought possible.

I want this to be my legacy.

I want to be a part of building a true community of learners.

I want this to be my legacy.

When I am gone, I want people to remember me as a life-long learner who had a growth-mindset and who continued to see struggles as opportunities to learn.

I want this to be my legacy.

4268161294_4562f5a8e2 (1)
Caring and Sharing. I want to be remembered for the importance of caring and sharing. A culture of care, which is focused on what is best for our students, is paramount on my list.  A culture of sharing, which is focused on the fact that we can all learn from one another – and we are better together – is also important to me.

I want this to be my legacy.

A teacher approached me at the end of last year and said, “Tia, I don’t know how you did it, but in your quiet way, you gave me my wings this year and then just let me fly – not getting in the way.”  I was taken aback by this comment, but it felt good knowing that she gave me my wings as well (along with other teachers on staff).  I wan to continue to inspire and be inspired by amazing educators.

I want this to be my legacy.

Why did you become an educator?

What would you like your legacy to be?

You may want to take a look at this video below about Spirals of Inqury by Judy Halbert and Linda Kaser:

Published by 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.

8 thoughts on “My Life and Legacy

  1. I hear your passion and sincerity Tia. I echo many of your feelings. I’ve been thinking of this question and struggling to put my thoughts and feelings together and find it very difficult. I also, am continually surprised to recognize how passionate I am about this career in education, learning and teaching. We are truly lucky! Thanks for sharing.

    1. Hi Lora,
      Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment. It was a very difficult post to write for me. I’ve been thinking about it since the session and just couldn’t quite write it. We are definitely very fortunate to be able to have the influence we have. It’s really an incredible time in education.

      Looking forward to reading your post, 🙂


  2. I feel the same way, Tia! It’s so much a part of who we are: the passion, the desire to be there for those who need us most. I find that the job is incredibly emotionally overwhelming… but the more of us who feel this intense passion, the more students who will feel loved and cared for. I agree that this is what so many of them need! I really appreciate you sharing this. It made me cry! Keep being awesome 🙂

    1. Hi Beverley,

      You are right, this profession we have chosen is really emotionally overwhelming at times – especially when we are learning so much about ourselves along the way. Didn’t want to make anyone cry, Bev, but it’s nice that you connected with the post. Keep being awesome, yourself!

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.


  3. Hi Tia

    I loved reading your story. I identified with so many aspects of it. It’s interesting how we feel that if we don’t have the best start in life, then we won’t have success as adults. I am really thrilled to hear stories of adults who have overcome adversity to make a difference in other people’s lives. I think it really helps for kids to know that their beginning does not have to be their end.

    In terms of your legacy, you are living it everyday. I am constantly amazed by all that you do. You are a shining example of what can be accomplished when you care. You show this to your students, the teachers in your school and in the education community. Keep doing what you are doing. You are a beacon of light and hope.


    1. Wow, Marilyn!

      What a nice comment to receive tis morning!

      Yes, I believe that it is important to share our stories for a couple of reasons. First of all, for students to understand that they do not have to be defined by their childhood, as you mentioned. They need to have role models in their life to show them what is possible. It all is possible. Secondly, I believe in the power of our stories with our colleagues. They also need to know that there is hope for our students. If they know successful people who also grew up in not the best conditions, then they will maybe see that it is possible for their challenged students instead of asking, “What’s the point? or What hope does that student have?” I want those questions to end.

      You are so sweet, Marilyn. I appreciate your kind words. Thank you. I am just one of countless educators in our district trying to do what matters for kids. You are one of those educators as well!

      Thank you for all you do,

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