The end of the year always brings out a time for reflection and thankfulness, and social media has only made this more public.  I recently came across the Twitter hashtag #MakeMeBetter. Users were invited to list a person, organization or other influencer that has made them a better person and/or professional in 2018.  

Positive Tweets Only

I am not as active on Twitter as I would like to be, but my Twitter follows are mostly other educators and educational organizations.  For many people Twitter has become a toxic mix of political division and mindless celebrity babble.

For me it is a great way to share ideas, connect with other educators and often feel energized or at least affirmed in a field that can be exhausting, thankless and sometimes even depressing.

When I saw others I follow sharing their Make Me Better connections I knew I had a lot of people and organizations that helped me be a better educator during 2018 and I wanted them to know that they were appreciated.  

Individuals who Make Me Better?

Joe Nathan @JoeNathan9249.  

Joe is the Director of the Center For School Change and is one of the people I respect most in the education realm.  Joe has been working tirelessly for many, many years to help make education better for ALL students in all types of school environments.  

I had the privilege of having dinner with him last fall while we were both in New York for the Coalition for Public Independent Charter Schools inaugural conference.  During that dinner I heard the first hand account of how the charter school movement was born in Minnesota and where we still need to go.  Also at that dinner were Dee and Doug Thomas who could have easily made my list. Thank you for your leadership and mentoring over the years.  

Bruce Dixon @bruceadixon

Bruce was the co-facilitator at the training I participated in with Will Richardson.  During lunch I had the opportunity to sit with Bruce and talk about educational futures, and even though he was the facilitator and the expert we had paid to hear speak he spent most of the lunch just listening to me and asking me questions about how NWPHS was making a difference for students and leading the revolution in education.   

Brad Gustafson @GustafsonBrad

I heard Brad Gustafson speak at a conference a number of years ago and I was taking in by his authenticity and his servant leader approach to school administration.  I started following him on Twitter and always find myself agreeing with his perspectives and using many of his recommendations. Brad recently published a book Reclaiming our Calling that I have been recommending to anyone who will listen.  

Will Richardson @willrich45

Will is an author, speaker and most importantly educator who has a great deal of influence on my teaching and learning (some of my colleagues say I am a Fan Boy – and I’m ok with that).  I have heard Will speak several times, had the opportunity to take part in a training he lead and read his books (From Master Teacher to Master Learner, Freedom to Learn, and Why School?), and even though I consider myself a very progressive educator Will is always provocative and challenges my thinking.

Dr. Seann Dikkers @sdikkers

Seann is an Associate Professor of Education at Bethel University and one of the members of the NWPHS Charter School Steering Committee.  Seann has been one of those people I can talk to about pushing the educational innovation envelop and instead of telling me that can’t be done he will ask if that’s all I’ve got?  Seann definitely made me better as the co-conspirator in the creation of the Projects, Pedagogy and Play Conference.  

Craig Wignes @cswignes

Craig is a teacher/leader at Jane Goodall Environmental Sciences Academy.  Craig has been a great resource and sounding board throughout the year. I truly appreciate our email conversations, social media exchanges and our quarterly coffee talks.  

John Spencer @spencerideas & A.J. Juliani @ajjuliani

These two challenged me to be better through their publications Launch and Empower, as well as, their blogs.  In addition, I appreciate their willingness to to allow NWPHS to use one of their quotes “The World Wants Go-Getter. It Wants Decision Makers. It Wants Designers, Creators, and Dreamers.” for our Innovator of the Month T-shirts.  

Organizations that Make Me Better

Education Evolving @EdEvolving

This is another organization that has help me become a better educator and school leader in 2018.  Education Evolving’s tagline is “We advance student-center learning for all students, by supporting teachers designing and leading schools, and by advocating for policy that is open to innovation.”

EdVisions @edvisions

Edvisions works to help support school start ups and existing schools to view school through a “Radically different approach to teaching, learning and leading.”  

Northwest Passage H.S. has been working with EdVisions for years to administer the Hope Survey to help raise student engagement, hope and achievement.  All great organizations are made up of the dedicated, passionate people who fulfill the mission and EdVisions is no exceptions.  Thank you to Lisa Synder, Julene Oxton, Ron Newell, and Steven Rippe for all of your support of NWPHS.

Innovative Schools Network @Innov8WI

This network’s effort in leading trainings and mentoring charter start ups. is invaluable.  The ISN is doing great work in Wisconsin and throughout the country to move education into the the 21st century.  

Teacher Powered Schools @teacherpowered

Another organization that has Made Me Better in 2018 by focusing on improving student outcomes and school culture through empowering teachers to take the lead in all aspects of school reform.

Northwest Passage High School @nwphs  

Finally, being a part of the Northwest Passage High School team has made me better in almost every aspect of my professional life.  For fifteen years I have had the privilege of being a member of the greatest staff team I have ever experienced. On a daily basis I learn from my colleagues, I share ideas, and I am challenged to do more for our students.  However, it’s not just the staff that Make Me Better it is also the students who share their experiences, their insights, and their dreams with us so that we can truly co-create the kind of school we all want to be a part of.  

Parting Thanks

I would be remiss if I didn’t also thank several other people who could have easily been on the list for 2018 – Wayne Jennings, Louise Wilson, Heather Johnson-Ross, Barry Golden, Eugene Piccolo, Brandon Wait, Paul Tweed, Liz Seabert, Todd Brunclik, and Sarah Hackett.

Lastly, I don’t say it nearly enough but the three people who Make Me Better everyday are my wife Renee and my sons Isaac and Noah – without the three of you none of the other work I do would be important.