The first time I met Lee he was greeting students with a smile and checking the crosswalk as they jumped off the school bus one by one.
We met in the school's parking lot to save time because Lee "never missed my morning routine welcoming the kids."
As we stood in North Carolina's September heat, sweat dripping down our backs, he described how he was juggling four teacher substitute agencies and the construction of the school's new building while also making major changes to the year's curriculum.
Over time, I came to know Lee as a friend, a golf buddy as well as one of the most talented school leaders I know.
His board loved how he ran the school as if it were his own.
They loved how he made the school's students feel so welcome that attendance was slightly above 97%.
And they loved how enrollment was growing under his caring leadership.
They just didn’t show it.
Lee loved his students and their families, but he hated the feeling of not being valued by his board.
He called me up last week as he was gearing up for spring break.
He now has a dream that will take the school a step further by improving math learning in early childhood.
He wants to introduce a new innovative program on early math learning for children birth to third grade which includes early caregivers, parents, families and preschool teachers in the educational process.
But he needs funds and his board has other priorities.
He is going to go at it alone and raise the money himself.
He tells me he's spent hours talking about his Early Math Education Initiative to family and friends. He has worked on everything from the name to the launch strategy and service descriptions.
That was two years ago.
I’d love to tell you that Lee got his initiative up and running and that it has succeeded beyond his wildest dreams, but I can’t.
You see, he never did find the time to raise funds. Since his board would not help, he thought about applying for a grant.
He would have to learn how to find funders that match his mission, how to search through grant databases, how to build a deep bench of experienced grant writers and of course how to write a proposal that brings tears to the eyes, that conveys that lives are being transformed.
So he never started. He’s still hoping he'll get started one day.
How about you? Do you have any dreams about your school? Do you have the support you need?
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