An Open Letter to Coppell ISD
An open letter to Coppell ISD:
Writing is therapeutic and solidfies closure – this is necessary for my own sanity. 🙂
Seven years ago, I started with a man – a mentor – at CMS West who interviewed me for “an opportunity” to impact thousands of lives in a bedroom community nestled in the heart of DFW. What I learned as I left CISD in an official capacity yesterday was that it had the biggest impact me.
I confidently can say that God designed every step in this place that I called home – with every kid that I was blessed to smile at or high five; every lesson learned in the classroom and in life; every educator that I partnered with who cared deeply about each kid’s personal journey; or every laugh that left a lasting mark beyond that one moment. These powerful interactions with learners, parents, teammates, and community members flooded my heart as I left Coppell High School one last time as a professional partner of Coppell ISD. Only God can be so powerful to allow me such moments in life – moments that have shaped my standard for learning and human interaction.
Thank you, Coppell ISD, for these immeasurably invaluable moments.
Thank you to my peeps at CMS West. You allowed a 22 year old to be a part of a tight knit family of educators, pushing the envelope to develop well-rounded kids. To Vern, Rhonda, and Jeff, for pushing me to lead and design meaningfully – and when experiments failed, I appreciate you all giving me the feedback I needed to hear and mentoring me back to reality. Thanks to ‘that 8th grade team’ that not only said that every kid could learn, but meant it! To my dearest, closest friends from West (you know who you are!) – you helped me grow as an individual first then as a professional; you even fed me weekly (straight to my heart and my stomach). We all shared and celebrated life together. A special thanks to Sra. Stubblefield at North – I would not have survived my first year without her telling me that I was heading in the right direction. And, the most special thanks to my students at West. We had an interesting experience in that classroom. Learning was fun and unpredictable. I pushed you HARD because I needed each of you to be your best. Even when I was “the relentless Poullard” as some of you so affectionately coined me, I knew you trusted me with your learning and I cared for that trust very diligently. A special ShoutOut to my “High 5 Guys”, a male mentor program between 6th and 8th graders, established to support academic, social, and emotional needs of each kid. It was surreal to see my last group of mentors (some who were also mentees previously) graduate and my last group of mentees now as rising high school juniors. Thank you to the CMS West parents and community for allowing me to be more than just a Spanish teacher.
To my community at Coppell High, thank you!!! It all started when I, while still at CMS West, interviewed ‘the Mike Jasso’ for a grad class during his first year as principal and I left thinking to myself, “I need to work for this guy someday!” A few months later, I stepped into two of the best years of my teaching career. Thank you to my Academy students. You didn’t shy away from a challenge as we, together, designed learning for ourselves. You all made each day unpredictably fun – with your shenanigans and foolery. #PouPad still exists on social media! Passion-driven learning was important to you and you weren’t afraid to lead forward with your passion. You allowed me to experience real learning in the classroom. The partnership of every Academy teacher made learning amazing and R.E.A.L. Teaching would have been incomplete without my amazing LOTE department. A special thanks to Holly for leading and demanding high expectations from each of us, but also for not stifling our creativity as professionals. A special thanks to Janine and Derryl for the best year of teaching. We rocked out the Spanish III classes and raised the bar each day for those kiddos – and they always met the mark. Thank you to my Spanish III PAP students for trusting us to guide you. It sounds so simple, but we taught radically different than imaginable and each of us, you included, rose to the occasion (plus, we really didn’t give you a choice). Thank you for your impact on my teaching.
I enjoyed partnering with so many of you to lead professional learning (#CavPou), freshman transition program (A special shout out to Rhoda Hahn who slaved and partnered with me throughout the school year to lead a movement of change for freshman learners), and learning transformation (A special thanks to STAMI, who made me their “yes man” for learning experiments).
Many of you described me leaving the classroom to become an administrator as “going to the dark side”. Despite your perspective (whether accurate or not – no comment 😜), you expected and charged me to be a difference maker. I always tried to guide my day with three tenets: Think like a teacher, Serve like Christ, and Act like “Anthony” (good advice from a grad school buddy). I am so grateful because I was chosen to lead a campus with the best team in education:
Thank you Mr. Jasso – for leading and shaping my administrative perspective. Leadership lessons (convos, tweets, articles) were our common language. Thanks for always seamlessly making time for me – just to listen, give advice, or shoot the breeze – even when I know time was limited.
Thank you Jamila – for the humor and professionalism that you always used. Although you harassed me majority of the time, I always appreciate your approach and good laughs.
Thank you Jeremy – for being my sounding board and contributing to my moral compass. You taught me how to think critically in all decision-making about everyone and everything affected.
Thank you Kayla – for modeling passion-driven leadership for me and being willing to share wisdom and experience while I was teaching and as an AP. Thanks for the good laughs and never wearing your radio.
Thank you Melissa – for being my professional learning buddy, not just on campus with iLead, but also at EdCamps (where you pushed me to present with you). Most importantly, thanks for reminding me of the power of having fun.
Thank you Ryan – for modeling a genuine spirit and commitment to your craft. Your life experiences, although you kept them private from most, are nothing short of amazing. Our journey was solidified during the “spirit quest” last year and has only made me better.
Thank you Sean – for being a solid rock for me over the last 4 years. You showed me the power of being yourself. You are genuine and that example pushes me to always be myself in leadership.
Thank you Wes – for deep conversations that extended beyond philosophy and perspective. You never let me get away with status quo or a subpar approach. Thank you for the challenges.
My admin team, including Z the latter part of this semester, did amazing things and put others at the forefront of decision-making. I am grateful to be a part of this legacy. A special shoutout to Ms. Moore and my English Department. The learning, depth and the camaraderie in the English department were second to none. I appreciate CLACI and Brooke/Kelly for helping me deepen the instructional side of leadership. Thanks to a campus liaison, Deana, who supported (and encouraged) my crazy ideas. Thanks Ms. Neel and Patcee for keeping me sane and for keeping the ship moving (the office life), when I feared it would “sank.”. And a final CHS thank you to Jason and Chasity for being patient counselors as I learned the way; and a special thanks Yolanda for rocking it out this year with me and our freshman learners.
Thanks to the district admin, old and new, for believing in me to get the job done. Thanks to my cohort of district APs, who weren’t afraid to “embrace the scary” and be change agents. I will miss you all. Thanks to a school board that actually knew me and supported me in the classroom as a teacher and in campus administration. Lastly, thanks to the parents – you trusted me with your prized possession and allowed me to nurture their love for language and for life. The parents are the biggest “wow” of my teaching and admin career.
These are the memories — (via Twitter too #PoullardinKorea)! Thank you, Coppell ISD, for the trust, the love, and the experiences…until we meet again.