The Heart at the Very Heart of the Movement

Good day, CharterFolk

Since the beginning here at CharterFolk, I have shared my belief that Folk are the heart of the charter school movement.

Today I would like to talk about Folk within we Folk.

Folk who have led the way.

And have modeled for us all.

Constantly reminding us of what we’re trying to do and why.

And of the importance of loving what we do.

They are the Folk who are the heart at the very heart of the movement.

People, yes, who have been at the very center of what we have been trying to do for more than three decades now.

But, more than that, people who bring even more heart to the work than the rest of us mere mortals.

Wearing their passion on their sleeves.

And their love for young people.

And for Folk, all Folk, charter and non, who do all they can to make things better for young people.

Folk who see deeply into us and inspire us to bring our own hearts to the work at whole new levels.

Over and over again across untold numbers of other Folk.

Such that the collective heart at the heart of our movement grows.

And becomes something that sustains us.

And fosters within us a potential for impact far beyond what any of us could achieve if we were acting alone.

Of all the people who are the heart at the heart of the charter school movement, there is none that is more so …

… than Don Shalvey.

As Don wrote yesterday, he’s been at this work for 56 years.

My first year of life was Don’s first in the classroom.

A quarter century later, he worked with a close circle of colleagues to open California’s first charter school.

A decade later, the circle widened as he worked to make the country’s first CMO.

And the decade after that, the circle widened even further as he worked to foster charter-district collaboration across the nation …

… including in his own old hometown …

… where some of his deepest loyalties still remain.

Now he’s returned to the community he’s come to cherish most …

… doing what he’s done across the entire 56 years.

Work he loves.

Yesterday, Don shared a Contributor Column with us.

It produced an outpouring of response.

Some of it was straight sincere.

“Thank you for the piece from Don. He’s my favorite!”

Some of it was laced with humor.

“If there was ever another ed reformer I might have run away with, it was Don Shalvey.”

But all of it was chock-full of the affection and the respect that thousands of people feel for Don Shalvey.

As some of you who are close to Don know, he’s been through quite a health scare in the last six weeks. But owing to a medical procedure that Don deems “nothing short of miraculous,” he’s on his way to a full recovery, though it may be another few months before he’s back doing work his doctors predict he’ll be doing for many more years to come.

As it happens, this work on CharterFolk gave me occasion to be in contact with Don right as this health challenge emerged. Don had said in the fall that he wanted to help us grow CharterFolk by inviting A-Plus supporters to become readers. And just as we were carrying out our plans, his health scare emerged.

It reminds me once again why I love having the chance to work on CharterFolk.

It gives me excuse to be connected to amazing Folk like Don who inspire me to bring even more heart to everything I do.

And so, as a measure of the respect and the affection I have for Don, I make an even deeper promise to myself to do as Don has so wisely counseled us to do.

And has modeled for us.

Love what you do.

Don with students.

Love what you do.

Don with educators.

Love what you do.

Don with everyone else he comes across.

And in loving what we do, we join Don at the very heart of the charter school movement.

Bringing even more heart.

Such that our collective heart grows even more.

And sustains us.

And nourishes us.

For the decades of work that remain ahead.