Growing up on a farm in Iowa, I loved to play outside. We had many trees and open spaces, plus plenty of flower and berry bushes around. I would often wander the few acres we had, picking flowers or berries for my mom, enjoying the task and the accomplishment of making my family smile.


There was one bush in particular that I was always drawn to, the pink wild rosebush. This rosebush was always beautiful, whether in bloom or not. However, there was one drawback to these beautiful roses – the thorns. Now, most roses have thorns on their stems, but a wild rose’s thorns are particularly small, plentiful, and especially sharp. I remember trying to pick roses for my mom, making a bouquet of lovely pink flowers to bring into the kitchen, adding not only beauty, but the sweet scent they would bring to the room. Yet, I sometimes stopped in my tracks, wondering if it was worth getting my fingers hurt. Maybe I should just grab the bud itself, not even touching the stem? However, that would not be enough to make a bouquet; it would just be a bud in a water bowl.  


What I realized was that beautiful bouquets were not going to happen unless I got my hands dirty. I would not be able to create what I wanted to without getting in there, possibly getting my finger hurt from time to time in order to pick a few roses. It was tedious work as a took my time to be careful. While it was inevitable that I would prick my finger on a thorn, always in the end there was a smile from my mom and a smile from me for what I accomplished in creating that bouquet.


Today, as a leader in my school, I want to bring in the positivity that will inspire and motivate. Much like bringing in a bouquet of wild roses, I want to brighten the room with ideas, resources, and my support for my staff and students. While the work may not be easy, and sometimes there may be bumps and thorns to deal with, the end result of creating a positive school culture, one of sharing, connecting, and creating for students, is always worth it.


Yet, positivity alone will not do the job. But the job itself cannot be done without it. If I complained the entire time I picked those roses, setting them on the kitchen table with disgust and exhaustion, I’m pretty sure my mom would not have enjoyed them as much. She would have told me my attitude was not worth it. This is the same in schools. A great idea, backed by research and resources may be what is best for our students. However, if it delivered with angst, negativity, and an attitude of superiority, those listening and possibly implementing the idea will feel the same attitude – is it really worth it?


We may all have had an experience where someone with an amazing knowledge set deliver information in a staff meeting. While the information is profound and interesting, the delivery leaves those in the seats feeling inadequate and overwhelmed. It is all about the thorns.


We may all have had an experience where someone with amazing people skills delivers information in a staff meeting. The information was not grounded in research, was disorganized, and while we felt good about ourselves in the end, we had no idea how to move forward. It is all about the roses.


There is a balance between knowledge, skills, and positive attitudes. All of these must be incorporated into the work we do if we truly want to change our school culture for the better and if we want to continue moving forward for the betterment of our students.


There may be thorns along the way, tedious and hard work too, but the positive force we employ while using the knowledge and skills needed to implement the changes in our school are absolutely imperative. That is where the bouquet of roses will be created.

Posted by: Amy Heavin on

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