What keeps your engine running?

Happy New Year!  With our New Year’s resolutions in hand, we are entering into one of the most exciting and often most difficult parts of the school year.  Many long, cold, dark, days await the coming of spring and we continue to toil in the educational “doldrums.”  Christmas has passed and the enthusiasm of a new school year may have somewhat lost its luster, but if we redouble our efforts, this time of year can also be a time of explosive learning growth for our students!  This is the time when teachers will see more “lights on” learning moments than any other time of the year!

So, what keeps your engine running?  What is the fuel that inspires you each day to be great?  In commenting to a new found friend on twitter recently, I commented “I just don’t understand how anyone tackles the challenges of leadership without faith.”  For me, faith is what motivates me each day to be great and is the fuel to the fire I have to make sure each student is cared for, nurtured, and given the best education we can possibly provide.

Each action, whether it be the simple bending to tie a child’s shoe, listening to a parent or colleague in need, or engaging in a tough conversation about our practices when it would be easier to just embrace the status quo takes on an eternal significance.  Each act, however small, makes up my response to Him who loved me into existence and came not to be served, but to serve.

One of the biggest revelations for me in my faith journey came when I was taught that my “spiritual life” isn’t a separate thing confined to church attendance or daily devotions, it was my life.  Although I am called primarily to serve my family as a husband and father, I am uniquely blessed to be able to serve the “little ones” I encounter each day in my school.  I felt this way as a special education teacher and always felt compelled to dedicate myself towards the “poorest of the poor” in our schools.  As a principal, it has stretched me, sometimes in uncomfortable ways, to further allow my selfish heart to set aside my own needs and only seek to serve more and more.  This service is the foundation of any successful leader and I am grateful for the grace to continue to embrace all the challenges to which I have been called.

What keeps your engine running?


5 thoughts on “What keeps your engine running?

  1. Tia Z

    I think you hit on a huge piece with me Principal Joey! I agree with everything said in this post from daily faith to just caring about the little ones as well as the teens! I also would like to add that currently having excellent administration and colleagues goes a long way to keeping “my engine running” I couldn’t do it without the team of people I work with everyday. And let me tell you having 1 gym for K-8 PE can be difficult! But due to my amazing team of specialists who aren’t afraid to combine multiple grade levels at one time, we make it work. I think also that my middle school students have an amazing hunger for responsibility and having gave in 4 years ago to “teacher control” I let them have an amazing amount of responsibility from doing errands, to cleaning my equipment room, and finally actually teaching my little ones! It is awesome to see pre teens taking on responsibility. Now mind you they can also get on my nerves but at the end of the day I wouldn’t leave my K-8 setting because I get the best of both worlds. From Valentine’s Day parties to sarcasm at lunch, it is a job I truly love and I thank God for helping me to stay motivated to work with kids everyday! I look forward to reading more. I would also love to pick your brain sometime as I am going to get my masters in Administration.

    1. jsagel Post author

      Thanks so much for your feedback! I really appreciate you taking the time to read it and respond and it is so cool to see so many near and dear to me becoming awesome educators. Would be happy to chat sometime!

  2. Shira Leibowitz

    This is a post that touches me in profound ways, reminding me of the reasons I entered education. I am a rabbi and serve as principal of a Jewish day school with a dual curriculum of general and Judaic Studies. While our faith traditions are different, I suspect we share a spiritual core that, when we are true to ourselves, both grounds and guides us. In my own school we speak often of educational excellence, of the strength of community, and of the vital significance of core, enduring values; yet too infrequently do we open conversations about our spiritual essence. This is a bold and meaningful post for a first time blogger and I thank you so much for sharing.

    1. jsagel Post author

      Thanks so much Shira. You are really too kind! I agree with you that many times we avoid speaking about our faith when it is a source of strength for so many in education. Just by the nature of what we so (bettering the future of our children) we are people of hope. I really appreciate your words of encouragement. They go a long way!

  3. Pingback: Celebrating New Bloggers « Sharing Our Blessings

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