As we celebrate Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day, let’s recall some “connected” events which happened during a 13 month span in 1962 through 1963.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.’ I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave-owners will be able to sit down together at a table of brotherhood. I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a desert state, sweltering with the heat of injustice and oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character. I have a dream today.” – Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., August 28, 1963

These words were spoken for the first time less than three months after the death of Pope John XXIII (June 3, 1963), who opened the Second Vatican Council on October 11, 1962. Pope Paul VI was elected June 21, 1963, and decided the Second Vatican Council would continue. On September 29, 1963, Pope Paul’s opening address stressed the pastoral nature of the council, and detailed its four purposes:

  • To more fully define the nature of the church, and the role of the bishop;
  • To renew the church;
  • To restore unity among all Christians, including seeking pardon for Catholic contributions to separation;
  • To start a dialog with the contemporary world.

Less than two months later, in our “contemporary” world, JFK was assassinated.

These four men – Dr. King, St. John XXIII, Pope Paul VI, and President John F. Kennedy – were indeed dreamers.  They were visionaries who could see beyond the desperation and desolation, the fears and frailties in front of them, and inspire hope, rekindle the fire of faith, and encourage the work necessary to achieve the dream.

57 years later, you have been placed by God at this moment in time to do the same for the school (or schools) you lead. Leadership requires the dream…the ability to envision, to creatively imagine what we should be working for.  Leadership also requires the environment to be able to articulate the vision, the time to plan time to plan (yes, you read that correctly), and the willingness to set ideas aside that are detrimental to the dream.

How does this affect your school? In a practical sense for your school, DREAM stands for “Development – Retention – Enrollment – Advancement – and Marketing.”  It’s usually not considered to be an educators first priority since these actions involve the “business” side of the school, rather than the educational side of the school, or the resultant traits of its ministry to the community.  A couple of years ago, it was pointed out that until one is ready to take action, a dream remains a dream.  Therefore, the acronym was changed to ARMED – same elements, same letters, but action-oriented, and ready to make things happen.

But if you don’t have a dream for your school, then how can it hope to survive?  Not for just one more day, or one more school year, since day-to-day existence doesn’t inspire the parents that are members of your school community, as well as those looking for a vibrant educational environment for their children.  It is your dream, your vision, that will provide the compelling long-term plan which inspires hope, confidence and the intent to continue to make a difference in the lives of your school’s students.

Just as your Faith Identity, Activities, Curriculum, Technology and Surrounding of your school must be attended to each and every day, so must all these elements be attended to – or else the dream will die.

© Michael V. Ziemski, SchoolAdvancement, 2010-2020 (Original Publication Date: 20050117)