After graduation, and for the umpteenth late night in a row, I was buried in APS school-year closeout, sitting in my office cranking out emails again, when Board Member Matt Westmoreland stopped by. As a native Atlantan and Grady High School grad who loves this city – as do all my Board members – and promotes all of the good events offered around Atlanta, Matt suggested that I make time for the Hotlanta summer experience, especially the Fourth of July weekend activities! He suggested that I stay in town and do two things:
- Experience the fireworks near Centennial Park that can be seen from my home, and
- Enter the Peachtree Road Race.
I didn’t know about either! He said that if I was going to live and work in Atlanta, I should run the Peachtree Road Race. I haven’t been a real runner since my teaching days and even then I didn’t run 10k’s! Two of my top five strengths are achiever and deliberative, which means I must have a plan (and I do love it when a plan comes together). Together we came up with an ambitious plan. Check out the napkin in the photo below. He convinced me that if I stuck to the schedule, between June 5 and July 4 that in just three short (albeit intense) weeks I could run this race and achieve my goals. I took a leap of faith and decided to run. Agreeing to take on the largest 10K in the world (who knew?) was a way to challenge myself and a way to de-stress while getting closure on the end of this school year. Symbolically, it has been a reminder to me of what feeling the burn, if you will, is like when going through any kind of transition. Our district must become a high-performing school district where students love to learn, educators inspire, families engage and the community trusts the system. That is our vision, however some in APS, myself included, have experienced many challenging days and nights as we transform ourselves into what we must be for the children and families of Atlanta. It’s tough, both the training for the Peachtree and the rebuilding of a school district, and yet I’m hopeful for this district. I’ve watched myself grow as I worked my plan to achieve this personal goal and I know if we come together in APS, we can grow and transform this district, too.
I also took this opportunity to experience Atlanta’s awesome neighborhoods and parks. We live in a beautiful city, which inspired me more to make the most of what it offered. I set a high goal for myself to actually run the entire race and to do it – without stopping – in under 1.5 hours.
In my final days before the race, I recognized that it would still be a struggle to attain my goals. So imagine my delight when approximately two dozen APS colleagues, as well as Board members, turned out for my final practice run last night, including our new CFO! For me that’s an important lesson in all of this. While it’s important to personally be laser focused and put your head down to reach a goal, you must remember to surround yourself with other like-minded souls when the lift is heavy and the finish line looks a long ways away. Training for the Peachtree allowed me to make new friends in the community who also have an interest in running. Relationships matter, and I’ve met some fantastic Atlantans on this journey.
So here are a few more of my personal goals for this weekend, in no particular order: Run the entire time. Don’t embarrass the district. Learn healthier habits. Don’t use this as an excuse to eat pasta (for energy of course), all the time. Run, don’t walk, up Cardiac Hill. Run for kids (I am honored to be running for the Atlanta Track Club’s Kilometer Kids youth running program). One more addendum: Music motivates me, so I created a playlist that is special to me. My hope is that when I listen to it in the future, it will remind me of this special day. I’ll use a few songs from my playlist to close out this blog. You can “Count on Me” to “Just Dance” my way around every turn. This has truly been a “Lesson in Love,” and I’ve learned that “What Doesn’t Kill You” makes you stronger. I’m hoping I get the “Greenlight,” make it to the finish line and “Die Another Day!” (Check out my full playlist below).
I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to say thank you to all of our Board of Education members and my colleagues who have supported me in this effort. If you are at the race Saturday, please cheer on Atlanta Public Schools! The participating Board members and I will be wearing APS “Back to School Bash” T-shirts. I look forward to “running” into you!
Dr. C’s Peachtree Road Race Playlist: Yeah! – Usher Lessons in Love – Level 42 Greenlight – John Legend Count on Me – Bruno Mars Love You like a Love Song – Selena Gomez Call Me Maybe – Carly Rae Jepsen Billie Jean – Michael Jackson Die Another Day – Madonna Just Dance – Lady Gaga Somebody I Used to Know – Gotye My life Would Suck without You – Kelly Clarkson Get Lucky – Daft Punk So What – Pink Toxic – Britney Spears Waiting for Tonight – J Lo Don’t You Worry, Child – Swedish House Mafia We Found Love – Rihanna Jai Ho! – A.R. Rahman All about That Bass – Meghan Trainor Locked out of Heaven – Bruno Mars (Stronger) What Doesn’t Kill You – Kelly Clarkson After this experience I feel stronger and more prepared for the next school year. Happy Fourth of July weekend!