A Seat At The Table


conference table

Recently I got to have dinner with two people I deeply respect and admire in Education.  These are passionate, accomplished professional writers, speakers and most importantly; they are passionate teachers. They hold rock star status for me and many in my field.  I was delighted to be in their company, one evening after work.  But suddenly, everything changed.  I didn’t even begin to see it coming.

You see, I’m first educated in my family.  No one went to college before me. I wasn’t college track in school.  I didn’t know there was one.   I didn’t understand why other kids went off to college.  That wasn’t a reality for me or my family.

When I begged to go to college after high school, my father said I “should get some secretarial skills under my belt”.  So I put myself through school while working first as a secretary, and later as sales representative during the day, student at night.  I took classes at the local community college at night.  I applied for and got jobs that usually required college degrees.  I didn’t have one.  I was a poser.  I didn’t belong at the table.

During the course of my studies when someone suggested that I could be a teacher I cried.  I couldn’t imagine it.  But I made decisions based on hope.  I changed majors from business to education and began to study education.  I was older than most other students.  I went to ten different schools, piecing together an undergraduate degree between community colleges and two universities.  It took me ten years to finish, and another two to get a teaching credential.  But you see, I didn’t look on this as tenacity, grit, or perseverance.  Instead, I felt less than.  I didn’t believe I belonged at the table.

That night at dinner, the topic turned to a workshop at Columbia University where educators come from near and far to learn and grow.  Enjoying my wine and the sounds of colleagues all around, I said I’d always wanted to go.

And then – Ka-Boom!

An invitation.

Rock Star #1 said, “Why don’t you come and present with me?”

I’d always imagined attending… but presenting?

Really?  I asked.

Yes. Would you do it?  He replied.

I smiled and blinked out loud before saying “Yes!”

He said I could suggest a topic, “the more outrageous, the better. Saturdays are for people who LOVE the work.  We can be bold.

Wow.  My mind began rapid firing.  The conversation moved along.  I ran a possible topic I’d been playing with by Rock Star 1.

“See, this is me falling in love with you,”  he beamed back at me as I spoke about nerd studies, writing and helping students read.

This IS Amazing.

But perhaps even more amazing is coming to know there is a place at the table for me.  And if this is true, then there is also a place, my friend and colleague, for you.




About Be Strong. Be Courageous. Be You

Principal at the School at the north end of Los Angeles Harbor where AWESOME happens. Working to make the world a little more wonder-full.
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7 Responses to  A Seat At The Table

  1. Mindi Rench says:

    What a great story. This is the perfect example of what can happen when a person holds onto a dream and persists even when obstacles arise. And what validation, when a person you respect suggests presenting together. Congratulations!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jarhartz says:

    Beautifully written Dayna. Glad you wrote this for us and for you.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. dashthebook says:

    What a moving piece! I just had a lunch with a friend and we were half joking about each of our college tracks. I told him I was embarassed at how long some things took me, and instead of celebrating my perseverance and work ethic, I felt shame. Your post here reminds me to keep the big pricture in mind. I worked countless jobs to help pay my way for my first degree, and I shouldn’t feel shame, but pride.

    Congratulations on your seat at the table, and best wishes on your presentation! You have much to offer!

    Liked by 1 person

    • daywells says:

      Greg, I reread this post and your comment tonight. I intended to thank you before. It is amazing how kindred spirits connect through this TWT blog. I have such gratitude for happening upon your blog, sharing your work, and I thank you for your thoughts.

      Btw – I ordered Dash today!

      Liked by 1 person

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