My kids go to an amazing school – Community School of Davidson in North Carolina. Recently, the entire school was invited to see a documentary called “Waiting for Superman” which was a documentary on education reform featuring Michelle Rhee, who was the Chancellor of the public school system in Washington DC. I was unable to see this film, but now regret it and plan to find it somehow . . . she is my new hero!!!
I found Michelle to be so strong and a great speaker. I admire her so much for her tenacity and her bravery as she took on one of the worst school districts in the nation. As she was interviewed they showed clips of her at public school board meetings and people were whirling insults at her, calling her a racist and other awful things, and there were even threats out against her life! And, yet, in the face of all of that she knew she had a cause and that cause was the education of thousands of children in the D.C. area. Through her leadership and determination, the district achieved unprecedented growth in test scores and graduation rates, and reversed a trend of declining enrollment. Michelle now runs a non-profit called studentfirst.org whose mission is to promote the interests of children in public education. Way to go!!!
There are many things I loved and admired about her, but the main thing was her bravery in the midst of adversity. I know even here at my beloved church I am facing the stone throwers – just today I had two “comments” from connection cards that were not very flattering and actually quite rude. I have a choice in those situations – read them, learn from them and move on, or let it get to me on a personal level and worry about it all day. I choose to do the first one, but I tend to wallow in the latter. Michelle very bluntly stated that, although insults were flying in her direction, she never took it personally. It was the position they were hurling stones at, not her. It was what she was doing that made people mad, not her as a person. When asked how she was able to handle the anger that was directed at her she simply stated, “I’d rather have anger than apathy, so bring it on!” Wow.
Change is hard on everyone and I’m sure that much of the anger she experienced from parents was fear of the changes she was proposing. I feel that same fear here at HUMC as worship, staff, and programming changes come down the pike. People are afraid, angry, confused, etc. I totally get that. But, as an ordained leader of this church it is my job to lead toward positive changes. The bottom line is that if change is not happening, I’m not leading. A good leader recognizes that and works toward those positive changes without fear of retaliation or anger from others. A good leader lets God take control and be a major part of every decision made and every change implemented. A good leader faces challenges head on and embraces the anger as the better choice over apathy. I can only hope to ever be as good a leader as Michelle Rhee – she really is my new hero.