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Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Hands down. While I like all of the holidays, there is just something special about Thanksgiving.

Maybe that is thanks to my mother. One of the many lessons she taught me was gratitude. No, she never sat me down and said, “Kevin, you need to be grateful.” She taught it to me through modeling.

Despite the many struggles in her life, mom always had an amazing ability to be thankful for her many blessings, especially small things. If we were on a walk, she would point out a beautiful flower and a precious child and marvel at how wonderful it was for her to be in that moment. It was very genuine.

My mom also used to keep a gratitude journal in which she wrote down the things she was thankful for. She made a point to always tell me that I was at the top of the list (along with my sister, of course).

So when Shawn Achor, our speaker at the 2020 TASA|TASB Convention, suggested that writing down three “gratitudes” every day can rewire our brains from being negative to positive, I decided to try it. The past several months have been extremely challenging for all of us, but my gratitude journal has really helped keep things in perspective. It’s a great way to start my day along with a cup of coffee.

I won’t bore you with the details of my gratitude journal, but suffice it to say that you are in it. During these times, my persistence, happiness, and just “keeping my head above water” are the result of the inspiring people in public education, my TASA team, and the important work we have done together. You are my “why.”

I am grateful to be surrounded by self-sacrificing, generous, committed, honest, vulnerable leaders who wake up every day, and despite the odds, just keep making good things happen for our children and communities.

I hope that you will consider taking the time to write down your own thoughts, and that in those thoughts, you are grateful for the mighty role you play and the servant leader you are at a most critical time.

The word “thanks” does not come close to capturing the gratitude I feel for all of you. You are most definitely on my list of blessings. As is my mother, whom I lost to cancer a little more than two years ago. I greatly miss her and our multiple phone calls every week. She was an excellent educator and a great mom. I’m so grateful she was my mother.

Thanksgiving isn’t about gift-giving, holiday cards, or material things. It is a time to pause, reflect, and remember that as difficult and challenging as things are, there is more good in this world and in our lives for which we can be grateful.

I vote that Thanksgiving be extended to every day of the year … or at least acknowledging and expressing our gratitude.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

-TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown, Ed.D.