Trust Isn’t Given Away Freely

I recently attended a planning session at our local BOCES for alternative education. I was invited by the Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction. She had challenged her alternative ed principal, faculty and staff to create a new program. They were given model programs to consider and evaluate and then began the arduous task of deciding what is needed and where they’re headed.

Enter me, the suit in the room. The person no one really knows and who none have a reason to trust. Now the Asst. Supt. knew why I was there and regular readers of G-Town will understand. I’m passionate about the fact that we need another way for about 20-25 G-Town students, those who are dropping out. I went because I have an intense desire to design a program that will work for our students and/or become involved in one that’s happening elsewhere.

I was invited to participate but quickly realized that my involvement was not helpful. I was reminded through this experience that trust has to be built. My school community knows they can trust what I say and that trust empowers me to say what I think, to plan, to envision our future. This community of educators had no reason to trust me.

I wish they could have trusted me when I said, “I’m here because I’m excited about what you’re creating, I need this for some of my students, and I appreciate the hard work you already do in alternative education with the students for whom public school doesn’t work.” I remembered again that it takes time to build credibility and trust, it’s not given away easily.

So for the record, I can’t wait to see what the BOCES alternative education experts create. I hope it’s different from what’s already not working with this group of kids and offers a real option to dropping out. I’m very glad that there is a leadership initiative to head down this road and I trust you to make it happen.