Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Boost at the Bammys

This past weekend I had the honor of attending the Bammy Award ceremony in Washington, D.C. and words cannot even begin to express how much this experience meant to me. So, I was invited to attend because I was one of five finalists for Elementary School Principal of the Year, which was such an incredible honor considering my company (the likes of Mazza, Hilt and Wejr). In the end, I was selected as Elementary School Principal of the Year (still kind of shocked about that whole idea) and because it happened so early in the ceremony I totally flubbed my two sentence "acceptance speech" that was supposed to be witty, engaging and possibly profound - I don't think I accomplished any of those goals but it was an honor nonetheless.

This was just one small part of the experience for me because being at the Bammys was about so much more. It was an opportunity to meet, see and connect with some of the country's most dedicated and passionate educators! I had a chance to interact with Eric Sheninger, Tom Murray, Joe Mazza, Jimmy Casas, Jeff Zoul, Daisy Dyer Duerr, Bill Krawkower, Dana Sirotiak, Dwight Carter, Chris Lehmann, Pernille Ripp, Joyce Valenzia, Erin Klein, Joan Young, Shannon Miller, Amanda Dykes, Adam Bellow, Paula Naugle, Tom Whitby and Kristen Swanson just to name a few (definitely look them up and follow them on Twitter). I am still in awe thinking about it because each of these people has affected my thinking and practice in some way, shape or form over the last two years. Each of these people has helped me become a better Lead Learner and educator. Each of these people have helped keep me fresh and excited about my profession.

Now, did I get to talk shop with every single one of them? No. Did I get to sit one on one with each of them and have a profound conversation about how we could change the landscape of public education? No. But, I did have a chance to share a meal with some of them (thanks for lunch Jeff). I had a chance to share a joke and laughter with many of them (thank you Paula, Daisy, Jimmy, Gwen, Melissa, Tom, Adam, etc.). I had a chance to discuss some of the things I love about being an educator with several of them (thank you Joe, Dwight, Dana, Tom, Bill, etc.). I had a chance to be in their presence and soak up their passion and enthusiasm. For me, the Bammy Award gathering was an incredible boost! A boost of excitement about being an educator. A boost of energy to take that risk and seek the opportunity to innovate even when it's not easy. A boost of knowledge to question the norm and look at things through a different lens. A boost to remind me that our country is filled with incredible educators who have one goal in mind - doing what is in the best interest of children! Educators who are always willing to share and collaborate. Educators who get excited about trying something new in their space. Educators who look beyond the reform movement that is focused on reducing us all to a number. Educators who are proud to be educators.

Over the last couple of days, there have been concerns expressed about the Bammy Awards experience; there has been disappointment expressed over some of the things said during the ceremony; and there has been a lively exchange on Twitter about whether or not awards should be given. I think this is all great stuff because it challenges us to reflect and deliberate - both are opportunities for growth. 

Will the whole Bammy experience probably improve over time? My guess is yes (my first two suggestions are to make sure that the teacher categories get recognized during the ceremony and that they get some WiFi up in that place)! Could the ceremony be structured differently? I am sure that could be improved too. Should we be giving out awards? I see both sides of that argument. 

In the end, from my humble perspective, I thought the entire Bammy experience was awesome because it wasn't only about the awards (although I am honored to have won one) - it was about being in the same space with some of the most incredible educators in the world. I left Washington D.C. with many new friends, a larger PLN to collaborate with and a renewed excitement for my work as an educator. I got a boost at the Bammys and I hope I can return next year!  


  1. I am so glad you wrote this post. After reading so many negative comments about the Bammy Awards Ceremony, I was left saddened. It was such an exciting event, with an energy not easily described. The individuals in the room are among the most passionate educators I've ever met. There were so many positive aspects to the evening that seem to have been neglected in tweets and blogs.

    Yes there is room for improvement. Yes there were mistakes made. But I too choose to focus on the positive. I look forward to seeing how this program evolves. And, I definitely hope to be back next year.

    Congratulations on your win. As a parent of Cantiague students, I could not be more proud and honored to have you as our principal. Congratulations to all those recognized at the Bammy Awards. I only wish there had been more time to spend with the attendees - a truly amazing and inspiring group of people I can't wait to add to my Twitter follows!

  2. Thank you for this post, Tony, that highlights many of the wonderful moments of the weekend. One of my highlights was getting to talk to you about the power of mindfulness with your young learners. I learn from and with you on Twitter, and now those experiences are richer because we've met face to face. Congratulations on your well-deserved award. Your students, families, and staff are so fortunate to have you.

  3. Thank you for sharing your perspective Tony. Your positive comments nd recommendations for improvement have been heard and digested

    Congratulations for the work you have done and continue to do..

    Press on!

  4. Thanks Tony, for striking a balanced chord about this event. There was a lot to admire in it.

  5. Tony, thank you for sharing your thoughts on the recent Bammy experience. I am so thankful to have been a part of the experience myself. You have captured many of my own thoughts about the weekend; it was honestly a highlight of my career to be able to spend time meeting so many of my educational heroes face to face—including you, my friend! Congratulations on being recognized for this well deserved award—you are not only a role model to many but also represent scads of other educational leaders who strive each and every day to improve the lives of the students, parents, and teachers they serve. Although I enjoyed the awards ceremony itself—excepting the few obvious glitches that many others have already so eloquently described—it was the opportunity to interact face to face with passionate educators like yourself throughout the weekend that made this an event I will always treasure. Thank you for leading with passion. Getting to see you—and the other educators you mention in this post—in person confirmed what I already suspected: the future of public education in our great nation is in good hands. May you continue to teach, learn, and lead with passion!