Friday, May 9, 2014

Champion of Others - Peter DeWitt

Every day we empower students to be the best versions of themselves as they can be. We work hard to develop relationships to support their best interests and encourage them to be better than they sometimes realize themselves they can be; it’s second nature to us.

It’s rarer, however, to have an administrator or colleague who champions us, the teachers. Peter DeWitt is one of those special people.

Although I don’t remember the specifics as to how Peter and I first got linked, I’m certain it was through Twitter. He asked me if I wanted to do a guest spot on his blog, Finding Common Ground, and I was just overjoyed. Eager to please and impress him with my writing, I asked dozens of questions to which he simply answered, “What do you care about?”

It was that simple. He wanted me to write him an article about something that mattered to me. He gave me a deadline and word count and I, of course, got it to him the next day in usual “Starr” fashion. I think he was surprised.

And so the beginning of our professional relationship began. Over the last 6 months, Peter has continually gone out of his way to offer me opportunities and encourage me to move beyond what I was doing for him. He’s easy to work with, supportive, and engaging. His genuine concern for my success is really unparalleled considering we haven’t even met in person.

Now, I feel fortunate to not only call Peter my colleague, but a friend. We’ve expanded our relationship beyond Twitter and into other social media outlets and email. His direct honesty about a plethora of personal and professional wisdom is uncommon. The willingness he has to share his experiences and challenges is what I’d like to model myself after when helping others, too.

When successes come my way from the opportunities he has offered or otherwise, I enthusiastically reach out to him and he never disappoints me when he responds. He has been sage in his advice and I respect all that he has shared.

This Teacher Appreciation Week, I’m extremely grateful for Peter’s mentoring of my writing life. Anyone who knows him is already aware of his kindness and knowledge. Those who are just getting to know him will be welcomed. His impassioned beliefs about education are decisive and thoughtful, so read his blog and follow him on Twitter… pick up one of his books and learn. You won’t be sorry.

This post of gratitude was written by Starr Sackstein (@mssackstein).