Leaving Dearborn: A Tribute to Heroes, Visionaries, Friends, and Students

by | Apr 17, 2023 | Transforming Learning | 0 comments

It is with bittersweet emotion that I announce my departure from the Dearborn Schools. On May 2, 2023, I will be joining the team at Wayne RESA as the Learning, Innovation, and Technology Consultant.

Dearborn has been my home for 23 years as a teacher and technology coach, and even longer as a student, resident, and parent. I will be forever grateful for the opportunity to serve in our district.

A Tribute

Throughout my tenure, I have had the distinct honor to have served the students of Dearborn alongside many of my heroes: teachers, leaders with profound vision, and my friends.

In making a transition like this, I can not do so without acknowledging some of those who, along the way, had an impact on who I am as an educator.

  • Dr. Herm Boatin, my 9th grade biology teacher at Edsel Ford High School and the reason for which I dreamed of teaching Biology. He never would have known at the time how much of a hero he was to me. Yet, 9 years after I walked into the first day of his class, I was teaching biology in the very same room, seeking to imitate him and striving to inspire kids to explore the natural world.
  • Michael Grenfell, my most favorite teacher of all time. Every one of us, his students, wanted to be like Mr. Grenfell. He was my inspiration to be a teacher, and my role model as a human being. I am forever grateful that I had the opportunity to tell him thank you, and to let him know he was my hero before he passed away. I have sought to embody his integrity and wisdom, and my goal has always been to be half as good as he was. Thus far, I am less than proficient.
  • Imad Fadlallah, the first leader who ever believed in me as an educator. I admired him not only for his wisdom, but for his willingness to knock down barriers to ensure quality instruction for all. He needed no one’s validation, and sought to do what was right for kids. I am forever grateful that my path intersected with the path of Imad Fadlallah. I deeply regret that I never took the opportunity to thank him.
  • Dana Addis, who gave me the opportunity to participate in the best professional learning experience I’ve ever taken part in: the formative assessment cohort at Edsel Ford, with Dr. Ellen Vorenkamp presiding. The experience set me on a trajectory of deep thinking and a striving for professional development from which I have never found myself astray.
  • Chris Kenniburg, the one who made Moodle available to teachers so long ago, and opened up possibilities for me to integrate technology into my instruction for the last 17 years. Now a cherished friend and teammate, he continues to ensure that teachers have what they need to innovate.
  • Fatme Faraj, who with her support and encouragement, helped me sort out my career goals, empowered me to lead, and gave me opportunities for growth that I never could have anticipated. She has always made time for me, has never held back honest advice, and never ceased to inspire me to strive to do great things.
  • Bob Attee, who stepped in to fill big shoes (see next bullet point) as our Technology Director. He has provided me with amazing insight into leadership and has gone out of his way to share invaluable wisdom and guidance in my career goals. He has engineered a culture in the technology department that makes me look forward to coming to work every day. He is a model of good communication and a thoughtful leader who empowers others to ultimately meet the needs of teachers and their students.
  • Troy Patterson, who, just when I thought I had filled my quota of heroes, entered my career and opened doors of opportunities beyond what I could have imagined were even possible–and became my greatest mentor and role model. To me, he has been not only a hero, but a visionary leader who graciously became my friend. No one has done more to make me think harder, to dream bigger, or to overcome obstacles more seemingly insurmountable. And no one has cast a vision more profound for student learning in the 21st century than Troy Patterson. His impact on me is so profound that I can’t help but view the rest of my career as a carrying-out of the vision that Troy has instilled in me. I know I will fall short of his vision, but that won’t keep me from striving to fulfill it.

  • Amy Gwizdz, my distinguished colleague, confidant, and close friend. She embodies a quote I read recently that I don’t think could be stated more accurately: “A good friend is one who fights for you in rooms you’re not in.” I have known no more genuine collaboration, no one who has advocated for me more passionately, and no one to whom I am more indebted professionally than my Tech Coach partner, Amy Gwizdz. I will miss our time working together most of all, and I look forward with great anticipation to every opportunity to collaborate in the future. She is 10x the teacher I ever was, and has been an absolute joy to serve alongside for 8 years.
  • Teachers. All of you. I am constantly in awe of what every single one of you do, day-in and day-out to make it happen in classrooms across the district. You will always be my heroes. I’ll never stop doing everything I can possibly do to make your job as frontline warriors against illiteracy, ignorance, oppression and marginalization, easier, more efficient, and more effective. I am honored to have the opportunity to support you. And I will never consider my role outside of the classroom more important than what you do every hour of every day.

  • My students. The reason I’m here. I’ve learned more about learning from my students than I have from anyone else. You’ve inspired me. You brought me great joy to see your successes. Every one of your struggles taught me how to help others with similar struggles. You’ve given me the opportunity every day to do what I’ve always wanted to do most: help others. I’ve had the privilege of knowing hundreds of students over the course of my career. It’s been my honor to know you, and I will never stop caring about every single one of you.

This is not to mention all of my friends and colleagues from the Technology Department who diligently support teachers, doing things behind the scenes that no one even realizes need to be done in order to keep things running smoothly. Nor is it to mention the many friends and colleagues with whom I’ve worked along the way, whose friendship I value greatly. I’m sincerely thankful for all of you.

Know that this is not goodbye, as I will continue to support Dearborn in my new role. Dearborn will always be where my heart is. I look forward to new ways to collaborate with all of you for the sake of student learning.

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