Feeding the Spirit
That evening in the school cafeteria, I
understood the importance of sustaining
the human spirit during the many
high-pressure times administrators face,
especially in high-poverty schools. I
was able to eventually say yes because
in the months before that meeting,
many people had sustained my spirit.
My superintendent recognized the complexity of my school’s problems; rather
than judging us, she offered support.
My spirit was nurtured by my supervisor, who regularly stopped by with a
cup of coffee for me—not to monitor
me or tell me what to do, but to see
how I was.
One day, as I sat at my desk emo-
tionally exhausted, a colleague dropped
by to remind me that “the impossible
might take a little while.” She gave me
a book with a similar title. Reading that
book every night helped me remember
to respond to violence in our school
with compassion. It helped me forgive
blamed our kids and to focus on hope.
Duncan-Andrade, J. (2009). Note to educators: Hope required when growing
roses in concrete. Harvard Educational
Review, 79( 2), 181–194.
Palmer, P. (2009, August 14). The tragic
gap: Between idealism and cynicism.
[Video]. Yes Magazine. Retrieved from
Wood, D. (2011). And then the basals
arrived: School leadership, learning
communities and professionalism. Inter-
national Journal of Leadership in Education,
14( 4), 475–497.
Deborah S. Peterson (dpeterso@pdx
.edu) is assistant professor of educational leadership and policy in the
Graduate School of Education at Portland
State University in Oregon.