If you would have told me last June that I would be opening the doors of a small private middle school in September, I would have laughed and maybe even cried from anticipated exhaustion. Truth be told, I’ve been keeping this dream close to my heart, afraid that I wasn’t capable. I would regularly say to myself, who am I to start a school?

But recently that question has started to take a different shape. I’ve been thinking back on my journey as a teacher and learner. I can find the guideposts that have lead me to the place. I think about all the adversity, humor, and even hugs from my parents, mentors, teachers, and colleagues that have made me who I am. I’m prepared to make this next step because of the relationships I’ve forged. Lately, the question has become: Who am I NOT to start a school?

My faith tells me that I have a calling to be a teacher and learner. I believe that there comes a breaking point when we need to do what we’re called to do, even if it seems a little scary. It’s an exciting moment when we know that we can’t waste this passion and knowledge for one more day.

Folks, I’m at this point now. I’m starting a private middle school for students in grades 5-8. You can learn more about Yellow Parachute Academy here: www.yellowparachuteacademy.org. We develop identity and purpose through learning and connect it to community through service.

For years, I’ve been encouraging my students to find and follow their calling. I tell them to have faith that they can pursue their aspirations in spite of challenges. I tell them that fear and failure cannot hold them back from becoming who they are meant to be. And, that through the process of getting back up, they are succeeding.

So, it’s now time for me to heed some of that advice.

I am living my message, and I can guide you and your kiddos do the same. The world will be a different place when we break the chains of fear and shame to pursue the good, hard work we were meant to do.

And so…how can I help us to do this? I can tell share the stories of how my learning, training, research, belief, and identity has led me to the solid ground on which I stand today. How a dream will, through hard work, become a reality.