Challenger School

It’s Adoption Week


It’s adoption week.

Yes, Jadden will officially become Jayden this Thursday. The name-spelling change was his idea.

I always wanted to be a parent. I always took for granted that I would be one.

I remember colleagues would tell me, “Just wait until you have kids. You’ll think differently then.” As if all of my opinions would magically transform with the emergence of offspring.

I was never clear on why being a parent would make me a better educator. The roles are very different. I have blogged about it here.

I think that being a parent has only emboldened my determination to ensure that every child succeeds. In education circles, we love to talk about high expectations. Unless those high expectations imply that no one fails. Then we talk realism.

To many in education, it is laughable to think about a time where every child could succeed in school. Why is this such a far-fetched premise? We are so used to bell curves where there are always kids who succeed—and always kids who don’t.

But what if nobody failed? What if we took the very notion of failure out of our public school system? I am concerned that someone, someday will identify my son as not worth saving academically. Maybe he’s got too troubled a background. Maybe it’s because he has an IEP.

I don’t want any individual deciding for my son that he can’t make it and needs to explore a different track. In fact, I expect my educator colleagues to do everything in their power to steer my son down the road of accelerated academic performance.

I find Jadden’s (Jayden’s) attitudes about his adoption thrilling. He is counting down the days. He checks in with me often, I think to ensure that I haven’t changed my mind. I won’t give up on Jadden (Jayden). How can you convince someone who’s had a life of disappointments that your word is true? I won’t give up on Jayden and therefore expect that no one else will either.

Last weekend, we went to a local haunted house. I personally hate them, but Jayden has never been. He was very excited but also very scared. He was given a special wand to wave throughout the haunted house ensuring that the spooks kept their distance. He never stopped waving that wand.

It is amazing to me that a child who has endured countless fears, who has seen so much real-life tragedy, disappointment, and surprises, would find anything frightening about fictional vampires and zombies.

Afterward, even though he behaved fearfully throughout the haunted house, Jayden remarked, “That was the best time! Can we go again?” As if he had, like so many other times in his life, conquered the demons. I hope this confidence continues to build, whether with the aid of a wand or the people who love him holding his hand.

In honor of our adoption week, I want to loudly proclaim that my idealistic attitudes about the world have not changed at all. I have not become any more self-absorbed since becoming a parent over the needs of my child to the exclusion of all others. I want for my son what I want for all the other sons and daughters—for them to experience a joy and love of learning that propels them to deep and engaged levels of lifelong wonder.

About author

Dr. Jim Martin

Dr. Jim Martin

Jim Martin is a principal in the Salt Lake City School District and foster dad to two boys. He is graduate of Westminster College, where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in elementary education. He then went on to get a Masters degree in Teaching and Learning and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy. Jim has taught kindergarten, first, fourth, and fifth grades. This is his tenth year as a public school administrator. In his spare time, Jim loves theatre and has acted in over 30 productions. He is the artistic director of a local theatre company.

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