The Waiting

“The waiting is the hardest part
Every day you get one more yard
You take it on faith, you take it to heart
The waiting is the hardest part”

    -Tom Petty

I don’t know about you, but this song feels more relevant to me now than ever before. Little did I know when I left my job six months ago that my life – and your life – would be so dramatically altered. The COVID-19 Pandemic has left all of us in a waiting game of sorts – waiting to get back to work, or get a haircut, or visit the gym, or to get back to school or college, or just waiting on the plans to reopen the state and resume a somewhat more normal life. 

I recognize I am more fortunate than many. I planned to be out of work for nearly a year, and so I have been able to use this time as an opportunity. An opportunity to re-frame and reset after a difficult loss in my run for State Superintendent. So…what now?  

For more than two decades I have worked in education: as a teacher, a professor, and an administrator. I never envisioned myself doing anything else. Over the course of my unsuccessful run for office, my network of friends; colleagues; supporters; and non-supporters expanded across the state and across political aisles. During that run, I talked about my values, and what I saw as our most pressing challenges, as well as listened to the educational concerns of individuals throughout North Carolina and generated potential solutions. Some of those individuals agreed and others disagreed with my ideas – nevertheless, we had important conversations about education in our state. During these conversations it became clear, no matter where we fall on the ideological spectrum, we all want the same thing…excellent public schools for all children.

Regardless of whether my proposed solutions were the best course of action, one of my biggest takeaways from this experience is that I have a voice and a network. I believe that I now have more of an opportunity and an obligation to use that voice and network to advance causes many of us believe in. My intention with this blog is to do just that – engage/start conversations around issues in education and while I intend to focus on North Carolina, as we know many of the challenges we face are universal and thus are not confined by the boundaries of our state. I hope you will join me as I embark on this new endeavor – as a reader, as a supporter or as a critical friend, so we can advance the conversation.

The waiting is the hardest part…so perhaps it’s time for me to get back to work…


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Teacher educator, public education advocate and policy wonk. Dr. Michael Maher has dedicated his career to positively impacting the lives of children throughout North Carolina.

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