SUPERINTENDENT’S CORNER: One word to live by in the new year

By LAURA HAMMACK, guest columnist

Last year about this time I asked our administrative team to think about a word they wanted to use as a foundation for maintaining their vision for the school year. This idea is grounded in the work done by a variety of industry-thought leaders who believe, like one of my heroes, Jon Gordon, believes: “No goals. No resolutions. Just one word.”

Many times, at the beginning of a new year, we establish goals or resolutions that are too difficult to manage. They are ultimately forgotten, and the resolution is never realized.

The concept behind identifying “one word” affords us an easy way to remind ourselves of our intentions, and inspires us to live our life with more commitment to our purpose while reigniting our passions.

Those who believe in this work encourage us to post our “word” around to inspire ourselves and remain committed, both at work and at home.

When we engaged in this work last year, our administrative team identified some pretty awesome words for their “one word” journey. Words were identified like, “try,” “focus,” “commitment,” “organization,” “balance,” “communicate” and “understand.”

The word I chose also was shared by one of our school leaders, and that was “faith.”

We developed a graphic with all of our words and posted it to hold ourselves and each other accountable. This journey allowed us a keen insight into not only the word that was chosen by the school leader but also the “why” behind the selection.

One of our school leaders chose the word “intentional,” which really sums up the idea of “one word” in itself. By looking in to find the word that we need, we are more intentional with our commitment to making it happen.

I have enjoyed following “#GetOneWord” and “#OneWord” on Twitter, where you can share in reading the words that have been relevant for others. This is an idea that, at least for me, really sticks.

I think it’s fair to say I thought about my word every day last year. Sometimes I used my word “faith” as a prayer, an inspiration, a celebration, and it’s also fair to say to grit through the times that were a little more challenging.

My word from 2017 served me well and I don’t plan to let it go. However, I am inspired to regain a new focus for 2018 that stands on the foundation that was laid last year.

My word is “courage.” I have chosen this word because it inspires me to live life with less fear, to do the right things even though they may not be the most popular and to remain committed to knowing who I am and not trying to be someone I’m not.

I hope you find this idea one that might challenge you to think differently about your traditional new year’s resolutions. Our leadership team will be engaging in a “re-identification” process of our “words” in about a week, and I am very excited to learn the words they are using as their foundation for 2018.

Ask them what their word is. I am confident that you will be touched, as I am daily, by their extraordinary souls. We are blessed to be led in this district by smart, talented and genuinely good people who care deeply about the boys and girls we serve.

And without even thinking about it, I shared my second-place word for 2018: Serve. It’s an honor to do just that for Brown County Schools.

I am looking so forward to seeing the amazing things that our boys and girls accomplish this year, and promise to share the successes with you every step of the way.

Laura Hammack is superintendent of Brown County schools. She can be reached at 812-988-6601 or