“Impossible is just a word thrown around by small men who find it easier to live in the world they’ve been given than to explore the power they have to change it. Impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.” ~Muhammad Ali
If you have the chance to join us for the Middle School Musical, West Side Story, take the time to read the director’s notes by Ms. Chaffey. In her notes, she speaks about the fact that she never felt she would be able to have middle school-aged students perform a musical as complicated as West Side Story. In a word, she thought it was impossible. When I read her notes, it made me think of Muhammad Ali’s quote and how it relates to Saklan.
For Ms. Chaffey, she writes about the “impossibility” of adolescents pulling off intricate dance scenes designed to be performed by professionals. Of them connecting to a musical that is 70 years old and based on a 500 year old play. She worried about how they would handle the romantic scenes in front of their peers. While in her director notes she uses the word “never,” she probably thought it was impossible. And yet, here we are opening night – impossible is just a word.
At Saklan, I feel every day we do what others consider impossible. Take relationships for example. At Saklan, we believe that strong relationships between teachers and students are critical for academic success. Those students and teachers are partners in the journey of learning. This is a paradigm shift for most educators and takes an immense reallocation of resources. Smaller class sizes, taking time to know a student inside and out, making the effort to connect at a meaningful level. Conventional wisdom says that it is impossible to increase learning by spending time on things other than academics. The opposite is actually true. Warm relationships between teachers and students lead to increased academic achievement and improved social development.
As a teacher, Ms. Chaffey knew she could do the impossible because she has strong relationships with her students and their families. Because Saklan has a culture of compassion and courage where kids will take chances, knowing we are there to support them. From Owlet on up, we use our relationships to build confidence. That confidence helps our students overcome the pessimism of “small men” and to change our world. Our graduates see that “impossible is not a fact. It’s an opinion. Impossible is potential. Impossible is temporary. Impossible is nothing.”