journey of doing »

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.

Outlook:

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!

 

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  • 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

I’m currently on my way home from the AP National Conference where I presented Friday and Saturday.  This has been a bit of an emotional battle for me, as I can’t help but miss my dad, AP Teacher Extraordinaire… but if I’m being completely honest, I’ve missed him desperately for the last two months.   As I mentioned last month, I had to make some really tough work decisions and I desperately missed my sounding board.  Staff retreat didn’t end up the way I hoped it would and I feel like I’ve been in chaos and turmoil ever since.  Summer is almost over, and I’m ashamed to admit how much I’ve cried the past few months.

 

I had not been to DC since I was in high school.  The first time I went to DC, I fell in love with the city.  I planned to become the first female president.  I aspired to go to college in DC.  I had big dreams.  When we submitted this proposal, I was excited to come back to DC… but if I’m being totally honest, this administration has completely diminished my excitement for being back in my soul city.  They have made so many terrible policy changes that adversely affect the work that I do and the students I serve.

That being said, Congressman Marc Veasey introduced legislation on Thursday that combats some of the problems that were covered in the article that Eric Hoover wrote about our students in the Chronicle last month.  If you want an accurate picture of what my life looks like on a regular basis, read this.

We’ll see what happens with that, but I appreciate his willingness to work towards a solution.

P I N I T

Work Shenanigans

By this time, we would have done principal’s presentation and I’d be waiting for a school list.  Last Tuesday, I was notified that there won’t be a live principal’s presentation this year.  I can submit 10 slides though.  They are due on Tuesday.  Principals will have a week to review and make a decision.  I’ll get a school list in mid-August – the same day training is supposed to start.

I can’t even process that.

I am sure that I will rise to the occasion (I always do), but it feels like things just keep getting harder and harder as I get better and better.  Just once I’d like to feel like the process is fair.

churchill - on politicsP I N I T

 

Wonder Women

I’m a member of a professional group called Wonder Women.  I’m fortunately to know many of these women in person, and I even get to present with some of them from time to time.  This weekend, I went out to dinner with one of my fellow Wonder Women.  I decided to tell her the truth about how I’ve been feeling lately, and she gave me a lot of really good advice.  Some of the most salient takeaways were to stay true to myself – that our organization had not become what it was without my leadership for the kids.  That I didn’t have to apologize to anyone because of the impact that I’ve been able to make – not only for our students but for all students on a national platform.  Further, she reminded me that not everyone is going to be as good as I am at some things and I need to remember that.  My high expectations for myself may not always translate in the same way – and that’s okay.

I presented with another Wonder Woman who works in a university admissions office that I strongly admire, and she talked to me about the importance of recognizing that people have to do what you ask them to when it comes to doing the work in equity and access.  Not everything can (or will) receive an explanation or a vote.  People need to take ownership of projects and get them done.

As I write this out, it doesn’t feel like it truly encapsulates the conversations, which were, admittedly, very nuanced.  This Winston Churchill quote did echo in my head though.

winston churchill - on glow worms P I N I T The Wonder Women group has been a very free space for us to celebrate each other’s professional accomplishments, talk through the challenges we face, and be each other’s advocates and cheerleaders.  If you don’t have a strong group of professional women to inspire you in your career (whatever it is – that includes you, SAHMs!!), I encourage you to find one.  Finding role models, mentors, and colleagues has helped me not feel so alone in my professional endeavors, and I hope that everyone has that.  I have role models and mentors outside my field as well.  One can learn so much from successful women that we respect and/or admire.

I hope to be back in a real way in August.  I’m going to spend the next day or two figuring out what my intention is for August.  I definitely fell off that bandwagon in April, but I want to be back.  I haven’t felt like myself in months, but I’m ready to get back to that girl.  Glow worm and all.

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  • Kate - I haven’t been to DC since high school either, and am itching to go back! Sending all the hugs as you navigate through this tough time. And love that you’re a part of a Wonder Women group – get it girl!
    Green FashionistaReplyCancel

  • Bri @ My Life As - I’ve never been to DC but I would really really love to go! As a social studies teacher, & lover of America I don’t know how I’ve made it nearly 29 years without ever being there!ReplyCancel

  • Olya @ The Siberian American - Oh friend, I can’t imagine how difficult things are with the current administration. I know you will keep fighting, though. Love and hugs to you. <3ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - That’s so awesome that you’ve found a great group of women that can be your support system and your mentors! I haven’t found one, but I do feel like I connect with the women at my work which is awesome!ReplyCancel

  • SMD - I know a lot of people not feeling like themselves under this administration – people who don’t have their work tied to the terrible policies. Give yourself some grace. You are good at what you do and you’re not alone.ReplyCancel

  • Biana - I’m so sorry to hear that you’ve had such a hard few months!! Thinking of you girl and I know how hard you work and I’m sure your students and staff know that too! xo,Biana-BlovedBostonReplyCancel

  • Christine Keane - I can understand your feeling about visiting DC under this administration. I took Aiden to DC Spring Break 2016 and it was fun, light and he enjoyed it. I really couldn’t imagine visiting DC now. Bad vibes coming from that area lol. But Wonder Women sounds great and something I think we all need in our lives 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I feel for you with regards to your dad. <3.

    I did want to say, though, not to let the current political climate keep you from liking DC. Remember that many in DC are facing "taxation without representation". They don't live in a state, so they didn't get to vote on the president. And, honestly, given the number of marches, rallies, and protests, I feel like they are really doing a lot to have their voice heard. Don't hold the decisions of our government leaders over the city of DC; it's not their fault. 🙂

    I love the idea of Wonder Women. Even though I'm not a part of any group like that, I have definitely seen the difference strong women/mentors can have on your career. If you just know the right person, you can go so much further and do so much more! It's remarkable! I'm glad you are part of such an amazing group. 🙂 I feel like women don't support women enough, so it's nice to hear about groups like this. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Laura - I’m sorry you’re going through an emotional/tough time. I hope you get some rest and some clarity! As frustrating as it is, and feeling like so much is out of your control, there are a bunch of students out there who are so lucky to have you.ReplyCancel

Since we all know social media is curated, I don’t think I need to repeat any disclaimer about that.  If you look at my instagram, you might think I’m permanently on vacation (or living in Italy) and that I always wear dresses.  I thought it might be fun to do a post on a few things that might surprise you about me as a way to get to know me outside of my traveling persona.

journey of doing - things that might surprise you about meP I N I T

Things that Might Surprise You about Me

  • If I’m eating a meal that takes more than 5 minutes to prepare (or eat), I use my wedding china.  Because… honestly, why not?  It’s dishwasher safe, it’s gorgeous, and it makes me feel like I’m… wait for it… eating a real meal.
  • My husband and I rarely go out to dinner.  We might go out to eat maybe once every two months.
  • I really love a good deal.  Yes, I have expensive taste in clothes, housewares and vacations.  (Clothes because they last… vacations because I work too damn hard not to enjoy them.)  Getting a good deal is paramount.  Usually I’ll think that I can get an even better deal and I’ll lose out.  Womp, womp, womp.
  • I have the best of intentions in getting my life organized, but I can’t ever seem to get there.  I’ll get 90% of the way there, something happens, and I allow it to derail all the work I put into getting organized.
  • I drink water 98% of the time.  If I’m having a bad day or need a pick me up at work, I’ll drink a Dr. Pepper.  If we go out to a restaurant, I’m ordering a Shirley Temple.  (Because I’m 5?)  If we’re in Italy, I’m drinking more water than wine, but I’ll splurge occasionally.
  • I think the people I work with are amazing humans.  Seriously – I can’t believe that I get to work with such dedicated individuals who want to change the world.  Even when they move on, I am beyond thankful for the work that they did while they were with us.
  • I don’t mind a curated social media feed.  I find the day-to-day real world pretty depressing these days.  If people want to post what makes them happy, I’m all for it.  You do you.  I love pretty pictures, and I don’t feel bad about it.

Proof That I Don’t Always Take Myself Too Seriously

journey of doing - things that might surprise you about meP I N I T

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  • Christine Keane - Lol, I love your photo-booth pictures! Lyndon and I are the complete opposite and go out to eat way too much! We are trying to get better! And I’m all for a curated social media feed 😉ReplyCancel

  • SMD - I was immediately taken by this title and I want to do one.ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - LOL at living in Italy. I’m with you on the water (although now you totally have me craving a shirley temple) and I don’t mind a pretty curated feed either. I love looking at beautiful pictures!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - If you were to look at my feed right now, it’d be the exact same thing, you’d think that I lived in Hawaii! It’s just fun to show off some of the pictures that you love from all of your trips. Plus, like you said, everybody loves a pretty picture!ReplyCancel

  • cara - Loved this post and learning more about you! I love that you eat your dinner on your wedding china! Why not, right?! Also I kind of feel the same about social media. Seeing depressing world news is well just depressing lol. I love seeing all the pretty pictures. Happy Wednesday!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I LOLed at the Shirley Temple, you be 5 girl! Whatever makes you happy. I think a lot of people feel the way you do about getting organized, it’s hard to finish it out.ReplyCancel

  • Rachel - We use our wedding china every day, too! In fact we only really have wedding china. What’s the point of having it if you don’t use it?! People were so generous to give it to us, it would be a shame or it to sit in a box somewhere.

    I’m also the same with organisation. I get to the bit where everything’s a dreadful mess, then get distracted and wander off. I am a terrible completer finisher in general and it’s something I am working hard at!ReplyCancel

  • Kay - I go through bouts of drinking water 98% of the time and I love that! Love these.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - I loved reading this post. No wonder we get along. Shirley temples are the best! (At least occasionally, anyway.) And I’m right there with you, always doubting whether or not I got the best deal. Let’s not even get started on wine vs. water while traveling in places known for their wine. It’s odd, but, even though I like wine, I prefer water. *shrugs* We can’t always live the life featured in our amazing instagrams. 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Kris - This was such an insightful and honest post!

    Have an awesome day!
    xx Kris

    https://dreamingofpink.wordpress.comReplyCancel

  • Bethany Carson - This is such a fun post! I’m with you on drinking water all the time. Pretty much the only time I drink something other than water is when there’s no water (argh, I hate it when events only have pop!), when I’m so dead tired but have to stay awake (and drink coffee–almost never), or when I have to dunk cookies in milk.

    Good coworkers are the best. I am *so* glad I work with the team I do: everyone in my company is nice. When I was looking for a job, at one interview I was asked what kind of people I enjoyed working with. Nice people was my response, but they said their employees were kind of grumpy and didn’t get along. I’m so happy I didn’t end up working for them!

    Also, I’m with you on the benefits of a happy/curated social media feed. If I want to see something sad, I can just read the news!ReplyCancel

My friend’s mom makes THE BEST blueberry pie in the entire world.  I attempted to serve it at Christmas, and I DROPPED the pie when pulling it out of the oven.  I almost cried – not because I ruined the dessert – but because I lost part of the pie.  It’s that good.  You know what’s better than that though?  A mini blueberry pie recipe.

Apparently, I have a thing for mini pies.  Remember my mini apple pies from Thanksgiving many moons ago?

Side note: I started doing some organizing and updating of the blog last weekend.  You’ll find a few new landing pages (i.e. my tried and true recipes) and categories.  I’m also thinking about adding more photography tips and tricks – is there anything you want to learn?

I digress.  Today is supposed to be about pie.  A mini blueberry pie recipe at at that – so let’s get to it, shall we?

journey of doing - mini blueberry pie recipeP I N I T

Mini Blueberry Pie Recipe

Mini Blueberry Pies
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Serves: 12
Ingredients
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 3 cups of fresh blueberries
  • ½ teaspoon of grated lemon peel
  • 3-1/2 tablespoons of quick-cooking tapioca
  • ½ teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup of sugar
  • 2 tablespoons of butter
  • 2 boxes of two 9" ready-made piecrust dough
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tablespoon of water
  • Sugar sprinkles (optional)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Roll out piecrust and use 2.5" round cookie cutter to cut 12 mini pie crusts. Line muffin tins with mini pie crusts. Cut out another 12 circles to use as tops for the pies.
  3. Mix sugar, salt, lemon peel, tapioca, cinnamon and lemon juice in large bowl.
  4. Add blueberries to mixture and stir until coated.
  5. Scoop ¼ cup of pie mixture into each muffin tin.
  6. Cut butter into cubes and dot in muffin tins.
  7. Whisk egg and water to create egg wash for pie tops.
  8. Cut vents into pie top, brush with egg wash. Carefully push pie crust over blueberry mixture and tuck in sides. Add sugar sprinkles, if desired.
  9. Bake for 30 minutes or until pies become golden brown. Let pies cool for 15 minutes before removing from tin onto cooling rack. If pies stick, run a butter knife along the edge slowly to loosen from muffin tin.

Mini Blueberry Pie Recipe – Notes:

As a personal preference, I prefer to serve blueberry pie when it has cooled completely, and it’s really tasty with vanilla ice cream.  If you wanted to adjust this for a traditional blueberry pie recipe, you would use 4 cups of fresh blueberries instead of 3 and you would only need 2 pie crusts instead of 4.

Also, I am clearly not a food blogger.  Taste has nothing to do with aesthetics.  For pretty pictures of tasty food, check out Jasmine’s blog.  (I’m obsessed with her blog and secretly want to be her.)

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  • Stephanie - These are SO cute!!ReplyCancel

  • Ashley @ The Wandering Weekenders - These sound so delicious! I have to admit that I’ve never made a pie from scratch before, but I really want to! These should be my first stepping stone!ReplyCancel

  • Katie Elizabeth - Food pictures are SO HARD but these look so good. And it’s peak blueberry season in MI right now!ReplyCancel

  • SMD - These look delightful.ReplyCancel

  • cara - Looks so yummy! I love blueberries! Also, I’d love more photography posts. Maybe a series with like a beginner one on basic terminologies and then intermediate with shooting techniques.ReplyCancel

  • Mandy - Those look delicious! I love how they are mini so you won’t necessarily break your diet. Assuming you are on one. 🙂 (But then again, how can you resist limiting yourself to just one?)ReplyCancel

For more Arno Postcard Photos

(and Florence tips & tricks):

florence postcard photos – 2015, florence postcard photos – 2016

arno postcard posts

romantic getaway to florence,

florence travel guide, st. regis florence honeymoon,

st. regis florence river view, pizzale michaelangelo, & honeymoon in florence

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