Yesterday, things were very sure. The place where we stood in education had a list of things to do (and not to do), lots of folks who had gone before us, and, although we knew it was not enough for every student, it felt like we were pioneering something in the shadows. It was distinctly uncomfortable and clear and safe.
And now, well, we are in the gap.
We are pushing forward towards the front. There is the unknown, the excitement (and its companion, fear), of rushing to the edge. There is the absolute conviction that we cannot go back because where we are heading is far better, representing hope and improved outcomes for the students we serve. We are on the edge, and we know as leaders it is our courage, our determination, our fortitude, our sheer will that must push us forward. We cannot and will not go back. We are standing in the gap.
And in acknowledging our new place in the midst of this work, we expose ourselves. We are vulnerable. We do not know all the answers because we have shifted to questions. We wish in all our reimagining of things that we could paint a perfect picture with certain and sure results, and, well, that is simply not possible. We are exploring and braving the unknown and yet we know, deeply, that we are heading into a beautiful future. We see one stair at a time, ascending a staircase that is leading to something far more extraordinary than perhaps we ever dared to imagine before.
Leaders in the gap, will you keep pushing forward? Will you keep insisting on what is possible? Will you remain relentless about EVERY student, no matter who proclaims it is impossible or foolish? Do you have dear friends who will stand with you in the gap, who will celebrate with you every small victory, who will put themselves on the line to achieve breakthrough results for students? Will you create with us a more beautiful place for students to learn and grow and strive for more?
Oh, how I hope you will. Today in America our reality is that failure represents brokenness—students who don’t graduate are far more likely to belong to poverty and prison and we are expressly connected to one another, whatever our story. At some point, we have to look one another in the eye and see that our narrative connects. And I hope we strive with every word and deed to leave not one single student behind. We are all about every, and my prayer every single day is that our promise is so much more than words. Let it be about all the sacrifices that make our life a joyful insistence of the purpose that can be true for EVERY student.
In the gap. That’s where I’ll be standing, and I’m deeply grateful to stand with you.