Shirley M. Coleman (2002-2003)
As I read over the newsletters published during my tenure as president, I find that nothing has changed and a great deal has changed. We are still dealing with many of the same issues in education and in the world.
My fall 2002 message focused on the issues of 911 which forever changed how our world worked and what would happen to education.
The world continues to focus on violence as a means to peace----something is not right about that picture. The United States suffered another public attack in 2013, this time in Boston during the annual marathon there. Unrest in the middle-East has recently seen the withdrawal of our embassy staffs from a number of countries as we wait to see what will happen next. Our world of 30 years ago will never be again and those of us who remember it well wish for parts of it to return. Not all was great, but there was a softer side of life in the world of school then. School was respected as a safe place and teachers where respected for the job they did.
Schools are still focusing the issues involved with funding---lawsuits go on forever, seeking equal funding for all and quality is still being measured somewhat by a test even though we now have a series of index ratings to deal with as the new Accountability System was introduced in August. As in years past, just as we think we have things figured out, they change the goals and the tests and we are off and running once again toward an ever moving target. We have a long way to go to determine if this new Index system will provide for a quality education or not.
Personal and Professional Reflection…
I was a school superintendent during my tenure of office and have since retired. I enjoy retirement, but do miss the "being in charge" of the position. I enjoyed the day to day activities of running the school and loved being part of hopefully providing children with a quality education that would serve them well throughout their lives. My major focus in education has always been to provide students, to the extent possible, with quality lives and the skills they will need for life in a world we cannot know for it does not exist. When I began teaching, computers were just being thought about, calculators weighted at least 10 pounds, typewriters had just gotten to the point of being "plugged into the electric" and tape recording of educational programs such as Sesame Street was just happening so we could use them with children who did not have TV in their homes. Today the whole world is at a teachers' and a students' fingertip. Almost everyone has some sort of electric devise that can be used to seek information either at home or at school. I do still believe that the "old fashion" way of looking things up in books did help provide us with a work ethic that may be lacking in some of today's students. The ability to work smarter is good for all of us but we must all remember that some "sweat effort" goes a long way toward our becoming more creative and productive in our world.
During the year that I was president, we focused, as we do today, on establishing relationships and providing mentoring of young educators around us. We worked hard to provide a ethnically varied board and one that brought in a number of young administrators.
I am not sure what we truly got accomplished during that one year, but I know that we continued to grow and that our mission remained true. We were and are about bringing strong administrators into the schools and helping anyone who may need our assistance.
Future of TCWSE…
Today, TCWSE remains a part of my life and I been so fortunate to have been a part of it for 25+ years. This organization has given me support, focus, great friends and mentors for many years. I also like to believe that I have been able to give back through my mentorship over the years. I cannot imagine not being a part of the group, and I only wish that somehow we could get the word out about TCWSE. Even today, we remain one of the "best kept" secrets in the educational world. I do not know why and wish it were different. I hope that the young leaders that are to follow can continue to make this a great organization and to bring in all of those women out there who can benefit from our organization.
Thirty years and hopefully at least 30 more to come! I would close with several quotes from my newsletters that I still think are relevant. The first is from Muriel Strode and says, "Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." TCWSE has left a fantastic trail and we are counting on those who follow to go where there is not path and to leave a trail for all women in administration to follow. And finally Helen Keller said, "Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much." You will not be alone as long as there is a TCWSE, we must work together to shape a better world and even better educational system that will meet the needs of today's students.