As an educator, I am known for my ability to cultivate meaningful connections with students, staff, and administrators. To me, the foundation of education lies in building a strong sense of community through authentic relationships. It is this philosophy that guides my work, and I owe it all to the California Reading and Literature Project (CRLP). When I first became involved with the CRLP in 2015, I was introduced to its mission, the exceptional educators involved in the project, and the incredible opportunities for professional growth. These things through the CRLP have shaped me into who I am today, and how I as an educator put relationships first.
Being a part of the Onward: Cultivating Emotional Resilience in Educators book club through the CRLP helped me go inward to go outward. The author, Elena Aguilar, uses a cenote (underground cave containing permanent water) to offer a metaphor for resilience and says, “Within you and outside you is a wellspring of life-giving energy that you can access and cultivate.” The CRLP has become my cenote, my source of life-giving energy that sustains me during both good times and bad. Through the community and support of the CRLP, I have been able to transform myself as an educator, becoming more organized, accountable, and community-focused. My core values of joy, organization, and community have been honed through my involvement in the CRLP, and I have found inspiration and support from colleagues who share my beliefs and dispositions.
Thanks to the CRLP, I have gained the confidence and support I needed to take risks and reach my goals as an educator. By participating in CRLP trainings and working with teacher leaders in the community, I have been able to become more effective and successful in my work. The authentic relationships I have built through the CRLP have kept me involved and inspired, leading me closer to my authentic self as an educator.
The CRLP’s values, its people, and its energy is what I needed and what I was looking for.
Janice Anderson was Johnson Elementary’s Teacher of the Year, 2021, and runner-up for San Diego Unified School District Teacher of the Year, 2021.
Keywords: teachers as learners, teachers as leaders, community, relationships, resilience, leadership, core values, connection, goals