journey of doing »

Let Sara be Sara

Ambassador Ken Cochran: I never voted for you.

President Bartlet: Well, thanks for trying, but here I am, anyway. Gotta go.

-West Wing

Leo: If you ever told me to get aggressive about anything, I’d say “I serve at the pleasure of the President.” But we’ll never know, sir, because I don’t think you’re ever gonna say it.

President Bartlet: I have said it, and nothing’s ever happened!

Leo: You want to see me orchestrate this right now? You want to see me mobilize these people These people who would walk into fire if you told them to. These people who showed up to lead. These people who showed up to fight. That guy gets death threats because he’s black and he dates your daughter. He was warned: Do not show up to this place, your life will be in danger. He said to hell with that, I’m going anyway. You said no. Prudent, or not prudent, this 21 year old for 600 dollars a week says, “I’m going where I want to because a man stands up.” Everyone’s waiting for you. I don’t know how much longer.

President Bartlet: I don’t want to feel like this anymore.

Leo: You don’t have to.

President Bartlet: I don’t want to go to sleep like this.

Leo: You don’t have to.

President Bartlet: I want to speak.

Leo: Say it out loud. Say it to me.

President Bartlet: This is more important than reelection. I want to speak now.

Leo:  Listen up. Our ground game isn’t working. We’re going to put the ball in the air. If we’re going to walk into walls, I want us running into ’em full speed. We’re going to lose some of these battles. We might even lose the White House. But we’re not going to be threatened by issues. We’re going to put them front and center. We’re going to raise the level of public debate in this country. And let that be our legacy.

Here we are, on the eve of a new school year.  We are starting training for our Dallas staff (and our charter school staff went back to work on Thursday) today.  We got our school list last week, and it worked out almost exactly as I thought I would – without the cognitive dissonance that occurs when I give a live presentation, we remained stagnant.  We also lost two of our highest need schools, which caused me significant grief and tears, but there you are – #politicsasusual.  I’m trying to look at the bright side – that maybe I’ll find some balance this year – but the truth is, my heart hurts for all the kids who won’t have us to help them navigate this process and prepare for what comes after high school.

One of my staff members said it beautifully when she explained to me why she spent the summer teaching college survival skills to her kids.  She said, “I’m a college advisor.  It was the counselor’s job to get them through high school graduation; it’s my job to get them to/through college.”

I work with the very best humans.

journey of doing - let Sara be SaraP I N I T

So what’s with the West Wing quotes?

The truth is, I’ve been trying to rally myself for two months.  I had a brief moment in London, which I will blog about soon, where I realized it was time to snap out of it… but once we got back to Dallas, I couldn’t.  I started watching West Wing again last week to try and bring myself out of it once and for all.  It kind of worked.

I finished editing my photos from London yesterday, and as I looked at all the Churchill quotes I photographed, I realized that between that inspiration and the inspiration I drew from Wing-y, it was time to move forward.

  • Like it or not, agree or disagree, I’m the leader of this organization.
  • I have cultivated the best team who is committed to the work we do because kids are counting on us and because it’s the right thing to do.  
  • And lastly, whatever happens – whatever the district does or doesn’t do – whichever principals do or don’t choose us – we can sit back and feel bad that our country is in a state of disarray and allow fear to paralyze us or we can come out swinging for our students, each other, and for all that we stand for.  I didn’t build this organization to let it get torn apart by negativity.  Let’s do what we came here to do.         

I asked my staff to spend the last few days working on a reflection document, and so it seems only fair that I do the same.

Brag on Yourself:

I’m proud of where I have taken this organization.  It wasn’t handed to me in the current size, it doesn’t come with a playbook, and it requires a lot flexibility.  I’ve managed to grow it, expand it, and help a lot of kiddos over the last few years.  I’ve taken us from a local program to a nationally-recognized, award-winning organization.

Assess Your Strengths:

I’m good at strategy.  Whether that’s preparing for our principal’s presentation, identifying opportunities for students, or seeing the bigger picture when others can’t (or don’t think I can), I know how to utilize my resources to get things done and convince others to do the right thing.

Areas for Growth:

I don’t do as good of a job as I should at telling people when things are going well.  I tend to have tunnel vision for my problems and ignore the things that are amazing.  I don’t mean to, and I’m going to try and address that this year through regularly scheduled check-ins so that I can see all the amazing things that are happening.


I’m excited for all the positive energy.  When we went to TACAC in April, the enthusiasm was contagious.  Everyone had so many great ideas they wanted to run with, so I’m excited to see that come to fruition.  I’m going to pour more energy into helping my staff become the experts I know they are (that I am) and that they can be.

Professional Development Plan:

I want to read Dream Hoarders as it was recommended by one of my staff members who read it this summer.  I also want to identify additional books that I should read or that I want to ask my staff to read to help address issues with equity, social justice, and other challenges facing our students in today’s world.

Professional Development Ownership:

I am going to continue to prioritize and refine the development of our financial aid analysis tool and look for ways to make it more useful to students and advisors.  Further, I’m going to continue to look for strategic opportunities to grow our impact for students.

Institutional Support / Learning Environment:

I’m a reader who learns by doing.  I love to analyze things and then put them into practice to see what needs to be changed and improved.  Practice makes perfect.

Campus Support Needed:

Not on a campus, but I really need to get my office clean and functioning.  It’s gotten to the point where I feel completely overwhelmed when I walk into it, so I need to finish going through the paperwork, continue practicing Steph’s digitalization ideas, and getting rid of things.  The current state of my office (which truly mirrors my mind) cannot go on.

journey of doing - let Sara be SaraP I N I T

Someday I’ll tell the truth about everything that happened this summer, but in the mean time.. just know that I’m exactly what you think I am.  I’m incessantly committed, I work too much, I ask for a lot in the name of students and access, and I don’t necessarily do work-life balance all that well.  Most people don’t understand me, and I’m actually okay with that – most of the time.

I’m inherently flawed, constantly a work in progress, and I’m pretty damn proud of what I’ve been able to accomplish.  I know that my life has had meaning and, if I wasn’t here, some things would look a lot different than they do now.

Let Sara be Sara… if for no other reason than that’s the only way I know to be.  NOW, have a good day and let’s get to work!



  • Kate - This. All of it! Get it girlie! And you know I’m waiting for that London recap <3
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - A new school year! I can hardly believe it. Sending you all the good vibes & thoughts — you got this friend!ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I can’t wait to see your images from London. I’m thinking of going there for Christmas, so any tips would be useful!

    You put together a great reflection post. Hopefully it helps you as you go into the new school year. 🙂ReplyCancel