Navigating Change

By Kelly Andrews, IPLI Director

It has almost been a full year since I traveled north from Miami to meet with the IPLI Design and Leadership Team members to interview for the director’s position.  On the heels of that trip, schools across the nation closed, and a pandemic of epic proportions changed the way we do education.  Humbly selected for the position, I began the journey of change, typically challenging enough, but this change was amid a national crisis.   I was tasked with leaving behind a school community I had invested with my heart and in educationally to be prepared for the unknown and, at the same time, excited for the IPLI adventure awaiting me.  Letting go of the school until a new director was in place was not an easy task, yet I knew that I had followed my mothers’ advice (she always told me to leave a place better than I had received it), which gave me a sense of calm amid the crisis of the pandemic.  And the new director is terrific in the position and has become a new friend and colleague, which makes me grateful. 

My husband and I did all the physical preparations to move. All the paperwork necessary was completed, yet we landed in temporary living quarters for the first three months of our tenure (which is another story altogether!).  Daily, my husband would remind me of all the potential of what we were embarking upon.  My new IPLI/ISU family lifted me daily as I began learning the structures and navigated the organization’s changes.   I was not consciously aware of distress because all those who surrounded me supported and encouraged me along the way.  Being surrounded by a climate of joy, I chose to look for the sunshine in every moment…even when it was raining. 

We must all decide the kind of life we want to lead.  We have the choice to be true to ourselves, to unlock our unique potential, and only we can manage our individual struggle to live our life, to become the most human we can be, to live as joyful a life that God has offered to each of us. 

Maya Angelou’s ten rules for success help us to discover the importance of living our best life.  She told us we need to live by doing right, by being courageous, we need to love, to laugh, be a blessing to others, we need to turn our struggles into triumphs, you need to know that you have talents, you need to learn to say no, you should always do your best and keep rising.  Her words are inspiring to many, and each of us needs to discover what makes him, or her most joyful, most alive, for this is the true meaning of life-to become fully human.

The school year has been fraught with distress, anxiety, and many dilemmas we have never had to think about as educators.  Navigating change has created new ways of thinking, new ways of doing, and new ways of sharing to keep each other safe and connected with a sense of belonging.  It has not been easy, but it certainly has pushed us to grow.  As leaders, we are tasked with modeling for others.  And at IPLI, we are here to support and encourage that sense of belonging, especially as we grow leaders.

Alan Alda once stated that “Deep in our hearts, we know that the best things said come last.  People will talk for hours saying nothing much and then linger at the door with words that come with a rush from the heart….. They often slip out completely unnoticed and preceded by the phrase, “Oh, by the way…..” He went on to say that “Doorways, it seems, are where the truth is told.”  Today, we are all gathered at an opening.  It will soon be the end of something and the beginning of something else.  And my guess is there will be a lot of lingering at the door with the hope that one of us will say something that will somehow express what can’t be said in words.” These words apply to the next change we will navigate, and then the one after that.    

I try to remember that we are always navigating change, which is quite the  Hoosierism…..” if you don’t like the weather now, just wait as it will change!” I am grateful to be back home in Indiana, where the seasons change, and find that joy of support and encouragement within the educators’ community.  No matter the changes that come, we can prepare ourselves to be in a place to lead that change, embrace that change and then make that change the new normal.  We are on the precipice of a new normal.

A mentor once shared with me that Life is Good…..all the time!  (Thanks, Sheri!)  Look for the joy, and you will find it, even when things change. 

With something to think about…..Make it a great day!