Love and Light and #NPC18

I was really nervous and woke up super early the day #NPC18 began. I traveled to Chicago by car because it is just a three-hour drive from my house, and I was staying with my cousin who lives near downtown. It is always a bonus to spend time with her–we catch up right where we left off, back when we would end family gatherings begging our parents for a sleepover.

I never attended a national conference before and I had no idea what to expect. It is such a funny feeling…looking closely at faces as you walk to registration, thinking, “Do I know you from Twitter? Wait, do I know you from Twitter? Oh, you are smiling at me…do you know me from Twitter?”

I cannot list all the names of the amazing people I finally met face-to-face for fear that I would leave someone out, but I can tell you, without fail, they are ALL even more amazing in person than they are on social media. My heart and soul were filled to the brim and more through being surrounded by people who love kids with their whole heart and are servant leaders.

I was so thankful to share the experience with my friend Jon Wennstrom. We hosted the Principals Playhouse from #NPC18 where we shared some of our biggest takeaways and hosted some pretty amazing guests. You can check it out HERE.

Seeing Dr. Adolph Brown‘s presentation again was a huge highlight and the perfect way to kick off our week of learning. I just want to soak every word he says in…he is so full of life, love, humor, and wisdom. I especially appreciate his message that every student comes to school with two backpacks, one for supplies and one holding their emotions, values, and experiences. In order to help our students learn, we first have to build trusting relationships.

Having Dr. Brown call me out and mention The Path to Serendipity in the middle of his keynote was a jaw-dropping moment. Thank you so much Doc!

I took so many notes and added many items to my to-do list during Beth Houf‘s Lead Like a Pirate session. She had great ideas for connecting with students and with staff…watch out Quincy Elementary, the new ideas are comin’ for ya!

Todd Whitaker‘s message was so timely as we are looking for an amazing third grade teacher at Quincy Elementary. Todd suggests that we don’t look to hire someone to fit into our building, instead we hire who our building NEEDS. He also asked us this question, “When and how often do first year teachers want their principals in their classrooms?” Most of the audience of educational leaders chuckled and said never. Todd told us that, actually, first year teachers want their principals in their classrooms the first day. They either want affirmation that they are doing things right, or they want to know what they are doing wrong and how to improve.

Whew! Hamish Brewer‘s session was intense. He is a powerhouse, truly relentless in his pursuit to make sure students achieve. I love his message of, “I will do anything for my kids.” He really stretched my thinking… I have been focusing on making sure that we are telling our story of the wonderful things happening at Quincy Elementary to our families and community. Are we doing the same for each other? Are we telling each other the amazing things happening in our school? Hamish helped me see that we need to focus just as intensely on the story we tell each other within the walls of our school.

Jimmy Casas encouraged us to LIVE our excellence, not just say we are a school of excellence. Day in and day out, in every interaction we have, are we living our excellence?

I got to spend quality time with many people I had only admired from afar through Twitter, Voxer, blogging, and books…you know who you are. Thank you for helping me want to be better every day. I so appreciate your presence in my life and what you do for students and staff. I am so blessed to be connected with you.


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