By Kelly Cadman:
I am going back to the classroom.
To those who know me well, you are probably not surprised at all, as children are and always have been my heart. I adore them and have missed them so much. I miss planning exciting and sometimes messy lessons, watching them master something difficult, discovering a hidden talent, snuggling up with them gathered around and sharing a book, finding that “thing” that motivates a kid or makes them want to behave and learn, and all the sweet hugs they give. I miss the sister/brotherhood of the school environment that is difficult to articulate until you aren’t in it anymore. I miss crazy sock day, dodge ball at recess, making fancy bulletin boards, school assemblies, field trips to places I’ve visited 50 times, and even faculty meetings. I miss it all.
Interestingly, when we were planning Brighten, I never intended to do anything but teach. I had a lovely 4th grade position, and for the short time I was in it, I loved every moment. It never occurred to me that I’d be in leadership or ever leave the school to do non-profit education work. But life has a way of changing our paths so that we can fulfill God’s purpose in our lives. I’ve never been one driven by a bigger paycheck or the next step “up” in my career – I have just sort of followed the things that inspired me and done work I found to be important, meaningful, and fulfilling, and I’ve never been disappointed with these choices.
The path I’ve followed over the last 9 years has been truly life altering for me both personally and professionally. I am so grateful for the opportunity to learn so much and to be engaged in state level policy-making and reform initiatives to benefit kids and communities. I must admit that there are some things I’ve seen and learned along the way that I wish I could “un-know” – the politics and bureaucracy of public education can be very troublesome. But I’ve also seen some amazing work by empowered and visionary educators and parents and political courage that moved mountains, and that has been very inspiring. I am taking back to the classroom and school all that I’ve learned from other successful schools around the state and country and practices of fabulous teachers I’ve had the privilege to work with over the years.
Impact is important to me. I’m proud of the work I’ve done with GCSA and what we have built together to support schools and students. Tony Roberts has created an amazing organization, and I will forever be grateful to him for choosing me to be a part of this exceptional team, for entrusting important work to me, allowing me to grow, and for his understanding of my need to go back to teaching. I have made many lifelong friendships, and it has been a great pleasure and privilege to work with my colleagues in Georgia and other states to shape the charter sector. I am sure I will dabble a bit and help as needed from time to time and look forward to staying connected. I will likely see many of my charter peeps at the NAPCS national conference in Vegas for one last hurrah!
My immediate plans are to create a very smooth transition for the Association and conclude my service at the end of May. I’ll then enjoy the summer with my children and spend time making plans to teach in the fall. It’s been several years since I’ve taught, so I have a lot of catching up to do and re-acclimating myself to the classroom again. I also have to go shopping, as I have given away almost everything! Thank goodness I have a wonderful and supportive husband who has allowed me to follow my heart and doesn’t wince too much when the doorbell rings with a new delivery. It has also been gratifying to see Sutton excited to have me back at the school with him and Chandler giving me advice and encouragement.
I am so excited about this new chapter in my life and am thrilled to be going “home” to experience what we envisioned so long ago when Brighten started, as well as to support Brighten as it continues to grow and flourish. Thank you all for your friendship!