This evening I attended an event to honor an inspiring teacher, model leader, and a truly caring human being. She is brilliant, talented, savvy, and persistent. In collaboration with a team of visionary teachers, she helped to start the Center for Inquiry, and helped grow it into the collection of schools it is today. CFI schools are places where all students, family, and educator voices are heard and respected.
Chris Collier is retiring after more than 40 years of being an educator, and 30 years of leading the CFI schools. Her retirement celebration was this evening, and it was a testament to her reach and legacy as an educator leader. Someone made reference to what happens when a pebble is dropped into a body of water. The water ripples away, impacting all that is around it. This is a powerful description of how Chris is in the world.
She is willing to give new and inexperienced teachers a chance, allowing their voice to be heard along with teachers who have been in the field for many years. She brings student voices into what should happen in their school. She collaborates and values the voices of families in creating the community in which all feel as if they are the most special person on the planet.
Chris is also a strategist, thinking three or four steps into the future. She knows when to be strong and tenacious, and when to step away to regroup to come again another day. She builds bridges along the way. And she doesn’t back down when she knows something is right for students even when senior administration and politics are in the way.
As my first principal, she helped guide me through many a first year teacher’s obstacles. She mentored rather than lectured. Asked great guiding and deep questions to help me reflect on my practice. She trusted me to do my best and allowed my strengths to shine through, and made suggestions how I might address the gaps in my knowledge.
Where I am today is a direct line from her giving me that first chance, then surrounding me with some of the best teachers I have ever worked with throughout my career.
Thank you Chris, from the bottom of my heart. I wish you the best as you begin a new adventure and journey to your next endeavor. You are deserving of some rest without an alarm clock, without a bell schedule, or without meetings galore. You’ve earned the time to enjoy the memories of the thousands of students and hundreds of teachers, and the many families whose lives you have touched and made all the better.
P.S.-Frank in the Kitchen will return next week.