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What I Am Thankful For...

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After spending 30 years as a teacher and administrator in the K-12 public education system in Colorado, another three as a consultant, and now as a career coach at the post-secondary level, these are the people and things I am grateful for as I reflect during the holiday season.

1. My first principal

He hired me! He was firm, professional, but warm in his way and let me grow within my department with the help of my colleagues. He provided professional growth opportunities that I took advantage of early in my career.

2. My very first team members at the junior high level (7-9th grade)

They were good teachers, great role models for students, and positive, supportive, and inclusive as I began my career.

3. My first students! (and all the others...)

I loved teaching and coaching at the junior high level. Nothing better than 7th graders! They were not too cool to be silly, have fun, and show their enjoyment for school. In fact, three of my 7th graders are now administrators (principals and assistant principal) in that district.

4. My colleagues in administration

As I transitioned early in my career to a role in administration, I was surrounded with smart, thoughtful, forward thinking, helpful, and caring individuals.

5. Wrapping up a K-12 career knowing I had given my all...

I retired from the district feeling successful because I had surrounded myself with excellent people including: incredible teammates, great teachers, wonderful support staff, supportive parents, and hard-working students. I believed I could make a difference and worked hard to make that belief a reality.

As you begin your career, remember to say thank you to individuals lending you a helping hand, listen and learn every day, share and be collaborative, be the change you want to see in the profession, treat every student as if he/she is your own child, and pay if forward to those starting their careers. Education is a vital profession. We need to attract and retain the best and the brightest. Be a great spokesperson for your school, your community, and our profession!


Catherine Nolan, MA; Career Coach

Allen Yarnell Center for Student Success

Montana State University, Bozeman, MT

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