“Arrow’s Adventure” started as a gift of gratitude. I hope it will continue to show gratitude as it moves forward out into the world (hopefully on Amazon by the end of the week!)
For the past two years I worked as a math and special education teacher at West High School here in Knoxville. There are so many things I love about West and I wouldn’t trade my two years there for anything. Teaching in special education, though, can burn you out a little faster than a teaching job that doesn’t include managing a caseload of students with IEPs. Leaving West was a hard decision for me. I knew it was the right one, but I had grown to love my students and everyone I worked with. I also think those two years, though a couple of my most challenging, were where I had a lot of growth. I wanted to say thank you, especially to West’s principal Ashley Jessie.
Ms. Jessie helped me just by being a great leader. She has two things she goes by: living with purpose and passion, and every day trying to be better than the day before. There are people who say mantras or have mottos and there are people who live them. Ms. Jessie is one of those who lives them. She motivates by being motivated herself. It’s easier to keep pressing on when you are being led by someone moving forward with purpose.
The weird thing is that I grew to respect and be thankful for Ms. Jessie without ever really having a conversation with her. I simply knew she believed in me and had my back. She made sure I got small moments of recognition…like a wave from down the hall or a text saying she was proud of me. When my days were completely non-stop, from teaching to having IEP meetings to doing work at home and also trying to process a lot of hard stories from my students…yeah those small moments of recognition were big for me. Feeling recognized, knowing you’re believed in…those will help keep anyone moving. I wanted to say thank you, of course, so created “Arrow’s Adventure”. I felt the ‘always move forward’ mindset ran in parallel with Ms. Jessie’s determination to each day be better than the day before. Her book was created with all the original watercolors bound together and the words handwritten on the pages. I wanted to encourage her and just let her know she was making an impact.
“Arrow’s Adventure” is designed for young readers and I hope it instills in them a sense of purpose to always move forward. I would also love for the book to continue being a gift in gratitude and serve as a reminder to keep going. For me, I want to surprise my students at West with copies. For all of you….it’s up to you!
I think it’s important to show thanks to those who are shining light on our paths. Who has been a light for you? Do they know they have? A lot of times we assume people know we are thankful for them, but I think it’s a big risk to make an assumption like that.
I challenge you to make the opposite assumption….take someone who you are thankful for and assume they do not know the extent of your gratitude. Assume that they are either unaware or simply trying to trust they are making an impact. Reach out to whoever it is and show them or tell them somehow that you are thankful for them. Sometimes when others are shining so much on our own paths we forget they might need some light themselves. I don’t know if Ms. Jessie knew she was impacting me at West, but now I can say she does.
Show gratitude. Always move forward.