In my last post, I shared a bit of information on the life of renowned singer Barry White, and how it exemplified the importance of caring adults in the life of young people. I thought I was done with Barry White stories, but another came to mind, and it, too, relates directly to the work you all are doing.
It might surprise you to learn that Barry White never wanted to be a singer.
He was a producer, a songwriter, and he also arranged songs, even though he couldn’t read or write music (he saw music as something smooth, flowing, and connected, and thought that learning about the component elements would ruin that for him). He also had some success with an all-girl band he managed called Love Unlimited.
But he never wanted to be the guy behind the microphone.
What happened? Well, after the success of Love Unlimited, he wanted to work next with a solo male artist. He wrote some songs and was getting ready to audition singers, so he recorded himself signing those songs so the singers would know how he wanted them sung. His mentor, Larry Nunes, heard the demos and pushed him to re-record them and release them himself as a solo recording artist.
They argued about it for days! Barry White didn’t see himself as a singer and never wanted the spotlight. But he finally realized that if he wanted his songs done the way he wanted them that he would have to be the one singing them.
And a star was born.
That story reminds me of the many educators who find themselves in the same boat.
If you’re an educator or an administrator, is employer engagement written into your job description? Is it part of your performance evaluation? Does your pay, or your job, depend on it?
And yet here you are.
We put so much on teachers, and it seems like every year we ask more. There probably aren’t enough hours in the day to do your official job, but you guys saw that your students weren’t getting the kinds of experiences you wanted them to have. So, you’re putting in the time and effort to make partnerships happen.
Just like Barry White – regardless of what you planned on doing, you had a vision for what should be, and you stepped up and made that vision into a reality.
For those businesspeople and community members reading this: I would expect that very few, if any of you have official job expectations related to school partnerships. But you looked at what was happening with the kids in your community, you saw that they weren’t getting the support you thought they should have, and you realized that if you didn’t step up and make it happen, it wasn’t going to happen.
I’m sure you don’t hear it enough, so let me say thank you for all you do. Your students’ lives, and your communities, are better because you took on the mantle of partnerships.
Brett Pawlowski is Executive Vice President of NC3T, the National Center for College and Career Transitions (www.nc3t.com). NC3T provides planning, coaching, technical assistance and tools to help community-based leadership teams plan and implement their college-career pathway systems and strengthen employer connections with education.