Why I Love…

Jen Robinson Education, Elementary

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I’ll be honest I’m not a fan of Valentine’s Day. I think it’s a hoax, a made up holiday to support greeting card, chocolate and flower companies. I mean really, if you need a day to say “I love you” that’s kind of pathetic, isn’t it? My thought is that everyday should present you with an opportunity to share love and celebrate.

So today, no sappy love story, just the facts. I love my job. No really, I love my job. I am the principal of an elementary school. We have over 35 teachers, 30 classified staff, and 715 scholars, and at least 1,500 parents.

Let me explain. Through my career I have noticed a pattern. I typically stay about five years and then move on. I began my career as a special education teacher and then after five years moved on. We literally moved from New York to Arizona. My next role was a kindergarten teacher and intervention specialist at one school for five years. Then, yes you got it, I moved into a reading coach role, but for only two years. Next, I switched districts and resumed my role as an instructional coach for three more years. So in my mind, that equals five as a coach.

But, here is where the narrative changes. Seven years ago, I had an opportunity to become an elementary principal. I’ll be honest, this was not on my bucket list, until I accepted a challenge from then president of National Board, Ron Thorpe. He set forth the challenge, “We need more NBCT’s in leadership roles and leading schools.”  Soon after, I was given an opportunity to lead and manage a school. Now when people ask, I get to tell them I have the best job! I get the opportunity to observe all classes, notice trends and best practices, observe scholars and how they learn, see relationships between scholars and teachers grow and evolve. I love opportunities to talk with teachers about their practice and how they learn from experience. I love to engage with scholars about how they learn and what inspires them. I love to meet with teachers and create space for growth and learning. I love to hear from parents who advocate for their children and are involved in the education process. I love to work together with parents to solve problems and look for new opportunities.

Here are a few memorable moments from the past seven years that I love…:

Kindergarten scholar – “Dr. Robinson look I got my hair cut.”

Me – “Oh it looks very nice, I love it!”

Kindergarten scholar – “I cut it like yours, so now we can be twins!”

Grade 2 scholar 1 working in the hallway with scholar 2 – “You just need to think about one of the strategies we learned in class. Which one do you think you can use to help you solve the problem?”

Scholar 2 – “I don’t know the steps, I can’t.”

Scholar 1 – “Yes, you can do it. You just feel overwhelmed. You know you can ask the teacher and she will show you the steps again or I can.”

Scholar 2 – “Would you show me the steps?”

Grade 1 scholar – “Oh your shoes are beautiful. They look just like chocolate. Wouldn’t that be fabulous?”

Grade 6 scholar walking down the hallway – “You know, my mom and I were talking about you.”

Me: “Oh I hope it was something good?”

Grade 6 scholar – “We were saying that you must really love kids. You do lots of things for our school and take the time to talk with us when we need you.”

Parent – “Coming to your school was the best decision we made. We were declined open enrollment at another school because of growth. We didn’t want to home here, but we had to. Best decision we made. Worst decision was not coming sooner.”

Parent – “I love hearing what my son has learned as a SOSA (Scholar on Special Assignment). I was just telling him on the way home that he is part of a great learning and growth opportunity! I also talked to him about how I applied synergy at work today. He was working on an assignment about habit 7.”

Teacher – “Thank you for always pushing me. I was not sure how to take it at first, but now I know you are pushing me to grow and be a better teacher.”

The rock in the feature image was given to me two weeks ago by a second grade scholar. I was out at the main crosswalk making sure a few scholars were actually going home, when she came running out of the neighborhood to give it me along with a big hug.

What do you love about your job?


Jen Robinson

Maricopa, Arizona

Hello, my name is Jen Robinson. I have been in education for over 20 years. I began teaching in Buffalo, NY in 1992, as a pre-school special education teacher. My experience ranges from primary grades through high school. My husband and I moved to Arizona in 2001, where we were fortunate enough to teach at the same school. In 2004, I achieved National Board Certification and currently support candidates. In 2011 I completed my Ed.D. in Leadership and Innovation. My dissertation research focused on supporting National Board candidates through their certification process. During the 2012-2013 school year, I completed my National Board renewal process. It was humbling and very powerful to step back into a classroom. I am currently an elementary principal. I am excited and hopeful for the new school year. I also serve on the Arizona Teacher Solutions Team where we are solutions focused in an effort to transform and elevate the teaching profession.

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Comments 5

  1. Caitlin Corrigan

    I love the moment when I see I made a connection with a difficult student. The look in their eyes says something along the lines of “she gets me,” and I love the process establishing a good relationship with those kiddos. It’s not something that always comes easily, and the process isn’t always the same, but I love the end result nonetheless!

  2. Jen Hudson

    YES! I am so happy that you took the time to jot these down as a reminder why what we do is just so incredibly amazing. I love that my job allows me the opportunity to help teachers find strength and skills within themselves to be better for their students. I love the look on their face when they find it, know they had it all along, and realize that they can be successful. Plus, the “Oh my gosh, I did (blank) the other day and it was just perfect” is always a nice pat on the back. :)

  3. Angela Buzan

    Oh my gosh— that is so strange: I get that five year itch too! I had no idea anyone else did. I’m working on a blog about this now! Prep for pingbavk!

  4. Rachel Perugini

    I keep a little notebook of things like these- little moments that make me smile or laugh. If I don’t write them down, I forget them, and on really rough days when I question all of my life choices, it’s nice to have something to look back at.

  5. Yolanda Wheelington

    Thank you for this piece! I have to say that my job is one place in the world were 34+ children that I am not related to love to see me every day. If you ever want to see if someone loves you, work with kids.

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