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"Who Died and Left You Emperor of Ice Cream?" | Ecology of Education

“Who Died and Left You Emperor of Ice Cream?”

Last summer I had the opportunity to hear Lorraine Monroe speak at an institute I was attending at Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Principal Center.  With decades of experiences in education, she embodied a commitment to success that was both fierce and unwavering, yet simple in its tenets.

She offered one liner after one liner, put forth with the terse lips of the resolute, firm and demanding, yet believing and heartfelt.  Below is a small collection from my notes:

The #2 pencil does not know the color of the hand that’s holding it.

The work of educators is sacred.  We are the defenders of the children!

Take them where you want their feet to go when they grow up.  Everywhere enlarges the dream.

Who are the dream killers? Jiggle ‘em. Get them out of their comfort zone.

It’s not what’s on your back, it’s what’s in your head.  The #2 pencil’s answers come from your head not your clothes.

You gotta catch up in order to overtake.

Need to talk about college early.  Plant those seeds.

Kids have to see the fire in the teacher.

Do for these children what you do for your own biological children.

I can’t take a chance that next year . . . I can’t take a chance that the next teacher will do what I don’t.

To “Out-Crazy” kids is the gift of a great teacher.

In talking about the value of Servant Leadership, she raised these questions:

Do those that we serve grow as people under our leadership?

Do they become healthier, freer, more autonomous, and more likely to serve others?

Will the least fortunate be served by our service, or at least not further deprived?

Who died and left you emperor of ice cream?!

For all educators working in at any level in our school systems, she posed 7 essential, guiding questions that should help frame our reflection on our practice:

  1. What do I emanate as leader/teacher?
  2. What really matters to me in this work? In my life?
  3. What difference can I make right here, right now?
  4. Is what I’m planning, doing, and accepting moving the dream of my children’s lives?
  5. Who or what is standing in the way of my creating my dream of excellence?
  6. What will I no longer accept?
  7. Am I capable of transcending all of the obstacles in the way of my dreams and plans for my school and for my children?

With the new school year just starting, it is a great time to recommit ourselves to the heart of the task at hand. Academics? Yes.  Making a transformative difference in the lives of students? Most definitely.

Image: German Federal Archive

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Author:Jason Flom

Learner. Educator. Reader. Writer. Cyclist. Part-time Polyanna. Husband. Daddy. Founder, Ecology of Education. Director of Learning Platforms, Q.E.D. Foundation. Twitter: @JasonFlom. LinkedIn: Jason Flom; Edutopia's Green School Group; and doing dishes while pretending to be a professional underground rapper. "I regard it as the foremost task of education to insure the survival of these qualities: an enterprising curiosity, an undefeatable spirit, tenacity in pursuit, readiness for sensible self denial, and above all, compassion." Kurt Hahn