School Views: Tired, yet grateful
If you’ve ever been backpacking, then you know how I am feeling these days. That incredible sense of lightness when you drop your pack after a long day on the trail. You are buoyant and bouncy as you walk around camp, delighted by the scenery, energized by endorphins, yet glad for the rest. A joyous exhaustion.
Don’t misunderstand, one of my favorite things to do is carry a heavy pack into the backcountry, but I do enjoy putting my feet up at day’s end and taking in the scenery. The end of my tenure as a member of the Eagle County School District’s Board of Education has arrived, and I find myself joyfully exhausted. I would like to take this final opportunity to express my gratitude to our community and share some wisdom I’ve gained.
I continue to be thankful for a community that supports our schools, our students and each other. I am grateful for the experiences I’ve had and for the people I’ve worked with. They are what I’ll miss the most, the Eagle County School District staff and their determined commitment to kids.
Along the way, I’ve learned some hard lessons and some that came a bit easier. I’ve been both humbled and honored. I’ve laughed and I’ve cried. I’ve gained at least as much as I’ve given.
What have I gained? Perspective and patience. A deeper understanding of education and human relations. The realization that the message can get lost in the delivery. How you say something can be even more important than what you are saying. When you are trying to sway public opinion, it is best not to offend anyone before you even get started.
Be cautious with compassion. It is essential to seek to understand one another’s point of view and find common ground, but sometimes you just have to deliver the bad news and feel their pain. The wicked problems usually leave everyone feeling a bit bruised.
Relationships matter. Kids need to know that they are valued and heard, just like the rest of us. Human connection is essential, not just for success in school, but for joy in our everyday lives. Reach out to an old friend. Be a good neighbor. Ask for help. Make someone’s day brighter. All we have in the end is the impact we have made on those around us.
Be humble. Honor the wisdom of the beginner’s mind. Let go of ego and accept that there is always more to learn. Some of my favorite teachers have been students. Their perspective is refreshing, open and brutally honest. The more we involve students in decisions that impact their education, the better off we’ll all be, the bigger chance of success we’ll all have.
Serving on the school board has given me so many opportunities for growth and learning. I am a stronger, smarter person than I was 12 years ago. I will treasure the experiences that serving our community has given me. Eagle County School District will continue to evolve, push boundaries, and relentlessly pursue our goal of excellence and achievement for every student. It has been an honor to be a part of the team.
Kate Cocchiarella is the president of the Eagle County School District Board of Education.