Dear Allen Community,
As the summer days grow shorter and the first day of school is quickly approaching, I want to introduce myself.
My full name is Laura Beth McNabb Whitman; I typically go by Laura, or Ms. McNabb. First and foremost, I am excited to serve the Allen Community as your Principal. I come to you with thirteen years of experience in the education field. During my career, I have experienced education from many vantage points; I spent six wonderful years teaching in an elementary classroom in both district and charter schools. I also was the Academic Operations Manager supporting a charter network of four schools in San Jose. I most recently served as the Director of Student Services/Assistant Director at the first charter school in California. My professional journey has led me to discover that pursuing equitable education excellence is my passion, and I can’t think of a better place to continue to do so than at Allen Elementary.
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge and appreciate the Allen staff/teachers that have been volunteering over the summer preparing for what is to come. I am overwhelmed and impressed by the staff’s sincere passion and commitment to ensuring the overall welfare of the Allen community. Part of the time we virtually spent together was discussing what it means to be a Roadrunner and what the Allen Community values. During these conversations, I learned that Allen is strong, diverse, empathetic, focused on the whole child and takes pride in being Roadrunners. I am feeling lucky to be working alongside such amazing people and know that there is nothing this group of educators cannot overcome.
Before we get into the details about what school will look like in the coming weeks, I want to take this moment to acknowledge that we are living in an uncomfortable moment of history. COVID-19, without warning, required us all to rethink life as we know it. With such an unexpected turn of events, changes to the fiber of our societal functionings as we once knew them must be realized. During these unprecedented times, preemptive grace and optimism will be imperative for navigating all this newness. I also would like to advocate for grace in our communications, especially when we express dissenting perspectives. Intentionally assuming the best, looking for an alternative explanation, and entering into conversations being solutions-oriented can only expedite positive outcomes.
To remain brief, a couple of things about me that I think are important to know are that I am direct and appreciate transparency. With that said, starting the 2020-2021 school year as your new principal is certainly a mixed bag. I would think that most people are currently filled with conflicting sentiments about what is to come, and might also still be mourning what was. Specifically, knowing the halls will be void of students, that I won’t be able to engage with parents as I would like, or lead staff meetings in person is terribly frustrating. Also, not being able to hold the hand of a kindergarten student who is putting on a brave face as I have in prior years makes my heart heavy.
Although moving from comfortable to uncomfortable presents challenges, it also presents opportunities. I am genuinely excited for staff, students, and families to develop relationships in different ways, continue to take calculated risks, problem-solve together and kindly push so that our community will thrive. I want to also acknowledge here and now that there is no singular perfect plan that will meet everyone’s immediate needs. I must again ask for grace as we engage in unavoidable trial and error to refine our educational practices that must provide for a vast spectrum of needs during unprecedented times. I also request that we engage in healthy, and at times uncomfortable, dialogue because hearing from all stakeholders will be tantamount for us to strategically and urgently course correct as necessary.
Though this introductory letter is rather lengthy, there is so much left to be said. I can’t wait for the opportunities to do so and I am even more excited for the opportunities to get to know all the members of the Allen Community. To that end, over the course of the next couple weeks, please be on the lookout for some virtual welcome back invitations from the PTA, myself, and staff.
I would like to end this communication with a pledge; I promise to earn the privilege of serving as your Principal everyday, and will never take this opportunity of being a part of your lives for granted.