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Guest Voices: The Power of cOMmunity

March 29th, 2019

Principal Chrobak with her students outside the school building.

Megan Chrobak, principal of Oakland Mills Middle School, has made it her mission to meet the needs of students both in and out of the classroom. She emphasizes restorative justice through reflective dialogue, compassion, understanding, and developing an environment where students feel loved and respected.

It is an incredible privilege to work and serve the Oakland Mills Middle School (OMMS) community each day. While I proudly invest my time and energy into my school and community, the investment they have made in me is a true blessing and an immeasurable gift. The greatest lessons I have learned about the direction needed in education have come from spending time with the incredible students, staff, families and community members in Oakland Mills.

There is a spirit within the Oakland Mills community that I have embraced wholeheartedly. It doesn’t matter where you came from, what you look like, what resources that you bring to the table or lack, but it matters that you are one of us, that you are loved unconditionally and that we will fight for you.

Principal Chrobak with her students inside the school building.

This translates beautifully to how schools should welcome students and the restorative philosophies that should be at the heart of decision-making impacting children. My time at Oakland Mills has taught me that the culture of the school, the well-being of children and families, and equitable access and availability for quality instruction are equally as important as the quality of the instruction itself. My heart is filled each time I hear members of my staff telling students that they are loved and cared for and those sentiments returned.

It is important to understand that engaging students and community members does not work with a “one size fits all” approach. As educators, we need to be involved in our communities, spend time with our families and not assume that true relationship-building can occur only when it is convenient for the school. So many OMMS staff members spend time coordinating events in the community and parent-teacher conferences outside of our school building. All parents want their child to be successful in school, and we must continue to build trust and find creative structures that work for all stakeholders to be involved.

Principal Chrobak talking with Oakland Mills Middle School inside the classroom.

As a school leader, I know that I have so much left to learn, and I don’t consider myself an expert. What I learn on a daily basis is that we cannot overcome our challenges alone and that our growth will expand only as we work harder together. I take great pride in finding available system resources and those found through our great partnerships to support my students, staff and families, as we truly cannot reach our goals alone.

I greatly appreciate the Oakland Mills community for accepting me, for loving me, and for teaching me. You have made me a better leader, a better teacher, and most importantly, I am a better human being for the time that I spend with you.