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The Seaside Series: Team Spirit and a Grateful Heart

Carrie writes of overcoming obstacles and going against odds in a collective effort to build a great school.

By Carrie Lee Ferguson

Carrie Lee Ferguson is a mother and writer, furthering global awareness by creating new perspectives and connecting mind with heart. She writes on childbirth, childhood, education and social change. Holding a masters degree in education, Carrie has always been passionate about teaching and learning and views childhood as a critical stage laying the foundation for compassion and creative thinking. She is co-author of A Child's Way: Slowing Down for Goodness Sake and blogs at

September 24, 2013

Editor's Note: Here's Chapter 2 of The Seaside Series!  Take a look at Chaper 1 here.

We wanted to create a great school.  On the surface, that’s what brought us together--parents, professionals, educators and leaders from the University of North Florida.   Having been a teacher myself and with my own daughter ready to enter formal schooling, my motivations seem obvious.  When I look beyond the immediate content of what happened, though, I get a glimpse into how one can actually create something of greatness, including a great school culture.

Certainly we were bound together in our vision for a school that would educate the whole child, but how do an engineer and an insurance agent morph into education advocates with an exorbitant amount of time toward executing such a vision?  How does a mom stay up into the wee hours of the night creating a school budget?  How does an associate professor of literacy write a charter application, a grant, and in the meantime become the motor moving each task forward?  How did each of us handle the sheer amount of emails alone?

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Those that came together to build our school, and those that are now stepping in, are guided by their individual readiness for devotion to express itself, through them, into the world.  I put it this way, in a verse read on the school’s opening day:

What if we all began loving something long before we knew what it was?
An urge, that called us into its service
That led us here,
to the opening of this one school

What if we were just facilitating something that wanted to happen?  The right people showing up at the right time, like Trisha, the lawyer ready to handle the hefty school contract.  We worked together in a way that we hoped our students would: collaboratively, not hierarchical, but in community.  We were giving ourselves the very opportunities we wanted to give the children: the space to feel connected, worthy and to offer something of value.  This co-creative work laid a foundation upon which the school culture could blossom. 

It was in the way we treated one another while completing the necessary tasks that the invisible took shape.  Each time we choose kindness over animosity, we contribute to our empathetic culture.  Being a part of something I could never do alone evoked a deep appreciation for others and the gifts they bring.  Keeping a grateful heart makes practicing courtesy and empathy easier, and my heart remains open.  In this way, I can continue to express devotion and experience greatness.  This is the opportunity we now give our teachers: to express their own unique excellence in their classrooms.  That makes for a great school.

Read Chapter 3 here.