By Linda Nathan, Director, Perrone-Sizer Institute for Creative Leadership at Hale (PSi)
When I walk into the Tobin School in Mission Hill, I’m overwhelmed. This is MY school—the place where I founded my first school—Tobin Academic and Performing Arts Middle School. The foyer is still well-lit and welcoming, though by now the mural that students created in the early 1980s, celebrating the first-ever bilingual performing arts middle school in Boston, is gone.
I accompany Jossie Mar, the Instructional Coach for K-2, as she distributes report cards to faculty members. Wherever we walk, students and teachers are delighted to see her, often inviting her into their room. Jossie Mar confides, “Everyone comes to me for things.” This doesn’t surprise me. Jossie Mar has always been an “I’ll figure it out” kind of person. She’s developing curriculum maps and next year’s schedule, and carrying a host of other operational and instructional tasks at the school.
When I ask what Jossie Mar has taken away from her year in PSi, she is quick to say, “When I am giving feedback, I’m always thinking about CSI [Context, Strategy, Impact]. That was a very helpful tool.” Jossie Mar thinks deeply about how to help her early childhood colleagues improve their practices and how she can develop positive relationships with her teachers so that they trust her. “I always ask, ‘How can I best support you?’” She wants to make sure her teachers feel comfortable with her, otherwise it is hard to accept feedback.
Before I leave, I have the chance to peek into Room 209— my old classroom. The light is streaming in just as I remembered it. I tell Jossie Mar that this wing is where the middle schoolers lived, and they loved being separate from the rest of the grades. Jossie Mar responds in her fashion, “Hmm… I may have to think about a new way of organizing the layout of grades.” That’s what I have always loved about Jossie Mar—when she was my high school student at BAA, or my graduate student in PSi, or now in her leadership role—she’s always taking in new information to make something better.
Tobin is lucky to have her!