“As you think about your own path to daring leadership, remember Joseph Campbell’s wisdom.

‘The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.’ Own the fear, find the cave, and write a new ending for yourself, for the people you’re meant to serve and support, and for your culture. Choose courage over comfort. Choose whole hearts over armor.

‘And choose the great adventure of being brave and afraid. At the exact same time.’”

- Brene Brown, “Dare to Lead”

Life is a great adventure. So is working in the field of education. As I consider my career in education, I think about the adventures. Some of them proved to be exhilarating, some excruciating, some disappointing, some heart-opening, and some heart-closing. All resulted in important learning that I placed in my pack and carried to my next adventure.

In D38 I have had the pleasure of working with talented individuals who never stop giving back to students. I’ve watched our staff demonstrate a growth mindset as they shift their stance and advocacy as a result of learning new information. I’ve watched master teachers teach and enthusiastic students find subjects and content that ignited their curiosity and changed their paths to the future. Observing students change and grow and push through their own adventures has been incredibly rewarding.

I will miss the relationships I have with our families and community members who are highly invested in our schools. I will miss conversations with students and daily interactions with staff. I will remember the many shared experiences with staff members over the past five years that have taught me even more about people, education, student voice, and life in general. We have shared stories, shared pride in our students, worked through difficult times, and taken time to appreciate the moments of joy that come to us as a result of our chosen profession.

I made a choice many years ago to leave a career that was financially prosperous and seek a career that offered the opportunity to shape the future through the lives of children. I chose to become a teacher. I have never regretted this choice, even when I was economizing dinner options for my own children, stretching my budget till the next paycheck. The student loans I accumulated while seeking further education or new opportunities never seemed like a burden, because I was learning. I probably share this belief system with many teachers. We make many sacrifices to teach. While my jobs in education have shifted throughout the years, I have never forgotten the sacrifices that I gladly made for students. In my retirement, I will continue to be an advocate for public education. The future of our students and our communities are worth this investment.

I hope Coloradans will educate themselves about the current status of education finance in our state. It is not adequate, and it is not equitable. The Colorado School Finance Formula is outdated and broken. As a result, students all over Colorado are not getting the education they deserve. We have a serious teacher shortage, and it will only continue. It is time for all of us to take the same step that our teachers and staff have been taking for years. It is time to stand up for our students and support the system that will prepare them to be citizens — citizens who will ultimately shape the world we all live in. “Public education for all” is one of our country’s most important cornerstones, and I believe it is worth our advocacy.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve D38 and our incredible students.

Karen Brofft is retiring this month as superintendent of Lewis-Palmer School District 38. Starting in August, incoming superintendent KC Somers will take over this column. For more information, visit lewispalmer.org.

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