me I would never be accepted into my first-choice college; I was. I keep my public-speaking
medals and my diplomas framed on my wall
as a reminder that there is always a way. As an
assistant principal, principal, and now a supervisor, I stress to students that they should not let
anyone else decide what they can achieve.
—Lori L. Batts, supervisor,
Wicomico County Board of Education,
The Power of Words
The most important thing I learned was the
power of communication. I was empowered by
my teachers and coaches to use my words to
motivate, inform, and inspire. Throughout my
education, I poured my soul into my words,
whether written or spoken. The ability to communicate is the most important skill I currently
use in my role as principal and coach. Every time
I see a former teacher or coach, I thank him or
her for motivating me to be expressive.
—Brady L. Cook, principal,
Michigan Center Schools, Grass Lake, Michigan
Go Ahead and Ask
The most important thing I learned in school
is that there are no questions too stupid to ask.
Curiosity and the courage to ask questions are
essential to learning. The answers might also
evolve as we get older, gather more facts, and
view things from different vantage points. The
ability to deal with uncertainty is part of learning
and growing up. I demonstrate by example—by
treating every student as a unique resource.
Everyone has something to give if we step back,
take time to listen, observe, and draw it out.
—Connie Au-Yeung, teacher
British Council, Tokyo, Japan
Writing Workshop Skills
Three things that I learned in school have been
paramount to my success after graduation:
how to write well, how to work independently
within time constraints, and how to work col-
laboratively. In my 6th grade classroom, I help
my students develop these abilities by using
a writing-workshop model. I believe it helps
students become stronger writers and stronger
readers. Small groups and individual conferences
are the perfect platform for differentiating
instruction. Students learn to budget their time,
work independently, and work in groups as they
discuss, plan their writing, confer, edit, revise,
and produce finished pieces of writing.
Never Give Up
All during elementary school I was a daydreamer, and it was a struggle for me to achieve.
Once I was in high school and involved in
basketball, I became more focused, but I continued to struggle academically.
““The most important thing I learned in school is that there are no questions too stupid to ask.
Still, I was determined to not only go to
college but also to graduate and find a fulfilling occupation. At the end of college, when
I decided to be a teacher, I faced another
challenge—I was given a temporary certificate
and had to continue taking courses to be permanently certified. After five successful teaching
years, I faced a new struggle—obtaining my master’s degree so that I could become an administrator. I continued in school administration for
40 years and had the honor of having my last
school named after me.
The lessons I learned centered on the theme
of never giving up, even when told by various
teachers and supervisors that I did not belong in
education and should not expect success. Determination, hard work, and a firm belief in who I
was allowed me to overcome these obstacles.
—Eric L. Knowlton, assistant superintendent,
We want to hear
your stories! The
Me About” column
will feature readers’
how they give
to students. To see
and contribute a
response, go to
For more reader stories, scan this QR code
on your smartphone or go to www.ascd.org