Friday, December 30, 2016


Astronauts on the ISS see about 16 spectacular sunrises and sunsets from space every day. Noctilucent or night-shining clouds illuminate the deep darkness of space until the sun crests on the horizon. The breathtaking photos and the video footage shared by NASA inspire me to pause and reflect.
Last year, my ONE word was Growth. It was my first time to participate in the tradition of choosing a word (or several words) as a focus for the year and blog about it. And that made all the difference! “Growth” was consistently at the forefront of my mind. It’s as if I gave myself permission not to be perfect, to make mistakes, laugh at myself, and to keep pressing forward. During 2016, I literally could feel myself transforming and can now see the evidence in my written reflections.
I love working with young people! And although some may not understand, I know without a doubt that I was supposed to be a teacher and even for particular students and groups of students. It wasn’t so much that they learned from me but more of how much I learned from them! I have not regretted one moment of making the decision to stay in the classroom. But as many of you know from reading my blog, I’ve been compelled to travel down a new path.
There were times this year when I wanted to quit, when I couldn’t see past the barriers before me, and when I didn’t think that I had another ounce of energy in me. My focus on “Growth” kept me going. Upon further reflection, the challenges that I’ve overcome throughout my life have been a preparation to complete an even greater calling. A small voice inside of me is telling me to dream bigger and to follow my heart. I know that the next part of my journey is yet another stepping stone. Part of me is still reluctant, part of me is being pulled towards something greater. So in the quiet moments of reading and reflection, my ONE word came to me quite some time ago and never left my mind. It’s time for me to SHINE!
Thomas S. Monson said, “If you want to give light to others, you have to glow yourself.” In 2017, I will continue to learn, grow, and work on myself as a leader. My leadership can only be as great as my example, and I have a lot to work on and improve! But, I also know that there is greatness in each one of us. We have an innate desire to be a part of something greater than ourselves and to live a meaningful life. As humans, we want to belong, to be heard, to be validated, and to make a difference. As educators, we are part of the greatest profession on earth. We’re in the business of shaping and changing the lives of young people! We all need to realize our worth, our talents, our strengths, and our callings.
And then, we must ensure that our students have the same opportunities! Too many people go through life holding back because of fear and of not knowing their mission. We must extend to our students time to discover their genius, develop their talents, and share them. They have to internalize their value and worth! They matter! #YouMatter! I believe we’re here at this particular time to make a unique contribution to the world that only we can give. When we know our WHY we are here, we can serve from a place of true passion and strength.
"One Word" is just a word unless it’s followed by action. What are my action steps this year?
  • Read, read, read!
  • Learn something new every day
  • Listen
  • Uplift, Spread Positivity and Joy
  • Build stronger relationships
  • Lead with questions
  • Reflect (I need my #CompelledTribe members to hold me more accountable.)
  • Share! (resources, data, mistakes, and learning)
  • Celebrate growth!
I am blessed and grateful for being surrounded by phenomenal educators that lift me up, motivate me to be a better person, and encourage me to SHINE. My PLN, as a collective group, is the epitome of the kind of person/leader I aspire to be. A large part of my inspiration for my ONE word comes from my friend, LaVonna Roth, and her Ignite Your S.H.I.N.E.™ movement. SHINE is an acronym for Self. Heart. Inspire. Navigate. Exceptional. I highly encourage you to watch this episode of #Leadupteach to learn more about it. It’s an uplifting message that needs to be shared!
Nelson Mandela said, ““And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.” I hope I can be a beacon of light for others this year. I hope I can be the example that I intend to be. We are ALL leaders! I hope that I can help others recognize the leader and light within them. I hope I can contribute to their growth. I LOVE what I do! I’m committed to self-improvement. Nothing can extinguish the fire burning in me! Like the sun peeking over the horizon from an astronaut's window, a renewed sense of energy and light fills my soul. The day is dawning.

Watch me SHINE!


  1. Sandy!
    I love your new blog! How fitting as we start a New Year & you explore new roles as an Ed Leader. I love that you listed action steps for your One Word. You are an inspiring educator and I look forward to learning from you in 2017!


  2. Sandy, your light shines brightly and will continue to light the way for others in the new year. Thank you for your leadership & passion!

  3. Sandy, wow! I enjoyed reading your reflection and your why for choosing shine. Your action steps will provide an opportunity for you to shine throughout 2017.


  4. What an inspiring reflection and plan for the year ahead! Your SHINE uplifts your #CompelledTribe #PLN! We are better because of you. Watch out 2017!

  5. Thanks, Sandy, for your post. As I said before on Twitter, I am excited to see you lay out some broad action steps. I, too, have posted and included action steps: I'd love to hear your thoughts as we tackle 2017 together!

  6. Wow! Thank you everyone for taking the time to read and to respond. Your light shines bright and inspires me every day!