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Friday, February 1, 2013

Won't Back Down

A number of friends and colleagues encouraged Kate and me to see the recent movie “Won’t Back Down.” For those who have not yet seen it, I highly recommend it to you. It’s the heroic story of a single parent and a dedicated teacher who put it all on the line to rescue a failing public school in an underserved urban area.

It’s inspiring to see pure courage and commitment manifest in such a positive outcome! It reminds me of my wife, Kate, who started her career in education in 1965, and then thirty-nine years ago had a dream to start a small independent school in the face of extraordinary challenges, yet she did it.

The idea of dreams coming true is so important. The stories reflecting that this idea is real are essential to feed our faith and belief that it can happen. I know there are more heroes out there than thugs, and it’s so important for all of us to keep the spotlight on those heroic stories to inspire our young people that they CAN do it and they CAN realize their dreams if they dedicate themselves.

Visioning your dreams is a core component of the Lifeplan program. For many of the young people going through Lifeplan, it is the first time someone has asked them what their dreams are. We then help them plot a course with SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely). Then they learn how to build a personal board of directors who can help them achieve their goals and dreams.

It was so validating to watch a key scene in the movie when the teacher was challenged to explain what a “better school” would do for starters. This inspired, dedicated teacher expressed that that school would inspire young people to have dreams, to express them, to believe in them, and to help them grow a plan to achieve them. As you can imagine, we silently added, and to have a Lifeplan!

This movie earned the chagrin of the teacher’s union, lobby, some faculty members, etc. for their portrayed role in battling change in deference to complacence and perceived security. These were not insignificant “speed bumps” to our heroes’ journey, yet they battled on. In the Lifeplan program, we emphasize that speed bumps do occur and it’s how we respond to them that will truly define our character.

So in this New Year, “lucky” 2013, I encourage all of us to raise the banner for DREAMS! Let’s make sure we ask young people what their dreams are and let’s help them think about how to successfully achieve them.

All the best,


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