I Need to Be Charged Up
I finally broke down and bought an electric car, the Ioniq 5 from Hyundai. The car has amazing specs; it has a range of 303 miles and can charge from 10% to 80% in 18 minutes. It is clearly brilliant for in-town driving but should also be great for longer road trips.
The week after we bought the car, my wife and I decided to go to Topsail Beach from our home in Durham. We were excited to take the new car and started planning the trip utilizing DC Fast Chargers along the way. We were chagrined to discover there was only one fast charger southeast of Raleigh, making us worry about easily getting there and back. Given our need to get home quickly, we opted to take our gas powered car.
Our first aborted EV road trip made me think deeply about infrastructure and how it relates to schools. We often think of schools being successful because of excellent teachers and well conceived curriculum. And that is true. However, excellent teachers and curriculum are not enough—just like my brilliant car was not enough. These teachers need support from the infrastructure of the school. They need the folks who keep the buildings operating, the crew that cleans every day, and the staff who order their supplies and make sure they get paid.
When thinking of our schools, we often fail to give the people in the background their proper due. During the time I was Head of School, I would treat the maintenance and custodial crews to a barbecue dinner three times a year. (We were in North Carolina; barbecue was mandatory.) Not only did I thank them for their work, I reminded them that they, as much as any, were responsible for the school being able to meet its mission. Without working and clean buildings, we would not "be preparing the next generation of problem solvers for our complex world." They, like the teachers, were key elements in the school succeeding.
The crews loved hearing that message. It reminded them of the importance of their work and tied them to our larger mission. Everyone wants to be part of something bigger than they are. Those who create a smooth operating school so teachers can weave their magic are doing critical work. It is worth noting and reminding everyone of that. The school staff is a team with everyone playing a role; if any one of them drops the ball, the entire school suffers.