Chief of the Office of Educational Access DeWayne Street invited Vandegrift High School Principal Charlie Little to speak about his journey and the significance of Celebrate Diversity Month.

This On the Street: A #1LISD Journey podcast series serves as an opportunity to continue the conversation around educational access and to highlight our efforts around increasing cultural competency for Leander ISD staff. Our work is about bringing people into the conversation.

Episode 8 – Celebrate Diversity Month with Charlie Little

DeWayne starts by asking about his background as a person and as an educator (00:46)

Later, DeWayne and Charlie have a conversation centered around:

  • Leading in a fluid environment of changing ethnic and income diversity (07:05)
  • Fostering different types of diversity (16:55)
  • Favorite educator (27:40)
  • The importance of celebrating diversity (31:39)
  • Closing (34:38)

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Below, you will find a transcript of the episode.


DeWayne Street
Hello, friends. As we observe Celebrate Diversity Month, I am pleased to be here today with Vandegrift Principal Charlie Little. Charlie has been a distinguished and valued member of the #1LISD family for over 15 years and was the opening principal of this beautiful campus. Charlie is responsible for leading one of our most diverse campuses with respect to ethnicity and income, and I am very excited to engage in our discussion today, Charlie.

Welcome to On the Street.

Charlie Little
Thank you for having me, DeWayne.

No, no. We’re pleased that you’re here and look forward to our conversation. So, Charlie, if you’re okay with it, I’d like to just dive into our discussion.

You bet.

About Charlie’s background as a person and an educator (00:46)

All right. So can you tell us a bit about your background, who you are as a person and as an educator? And in addition, can you share one thing about yourself that others may not know?

Yes, sure. I guess one thing that people may not know about me, they just think of me as a school administrator sometimes. But I’ve had three students go through Vandegrift, of my own, and I feel like it was a privilege to get to do that. They weren’t necessarily wild about having their dad be their principal, but that’s something that a lot of times when I’m talking to a parent and they’re telling me something and I’m able to say, you know, I have three very different children and probably experience something similar and you can share that out.

That’s one, but probably …

Which I did not know. I did not know your own children went through VHS.

They kind of fly under the radar for obvious reasons, but I’m very proud of them. And they’ve been very successful. They were great students, but they were typical students, you know, and they were … I’ve had two graduate from Arkansas. They’re duly employed. And I have one at LSU who’s working on it. But I appreciate that.

One thing, I don’t like to have my picture taken or I don’t like the sound of my recorded voice. So this is like a big thing for me to get to do this with you.

I love that.

I may have only taken one selfie in my life, and that would have been a long time ago. But I’m not the type of principal who has to be in the picture when I go to something. And sometimes that helps. And sometimes that hurts because people think you’re not at anything. But I just, you know, that’s just been … don’t enjoy seeing myself … I feel like I look better in person than … to myself than I do when I see pictures.

But my background, I started out in … I moved from California. I was born in Texas, but I moved to California from California in ‘92 and got married. And the economy, if people don’t remember, wasn’t super great.

I do remember that.

And my wife is a CPA, she couldn’t get work out there. So we had heard about Austin and we moved out to Austin and I wasn’t intending to go into education and was applying to the University of Texas for an English doctoral program.

And I met someone who was playing volleyball out in the country. This is a long story, but playing volleyball out in the country. But it’s all about relationships. But a group of people that would play out in Round Rock that we lived out in Round Rock when we first moved out here, and they told me about being a summer school, working, you know, for summer school and doing alt cert and those kinds of things.

And I never thought about it, and it was real early in the alt cert program and she got me to sub and I subbed out in Del Valle at Hornsby Elementary and just, you know, fell in love with the kids, the energy the kids brought in. Anyway, I pursued that and got an alt cert in special education. And that was at the time that wasn’t necessarily my background, but that was what they were hiring for.

And they, and so that turned out to be one of the best things for me, because it really rounded me out for administration. So I got a job in Wimberley at a 6–12 campus, and that was their original high school. And then I did get to do that. 

And then I had an opportunity to come closer to … So I drove about an hour a day each way. Then I got a job at Westridge Middle School in Eanes. So I went from the rough streets of Wimberley to Eanes. And then … I was very blessed there to meet a principal named Carol, Dr. Carol Mackenzie. And she had a daughter, another daughter, a sister who had Down’s Syndrome, and she was very inclusive minded and very progressive.

And of course, I didn’t know any better. I was new to the profession and we did all co-teach and full immersion inclusion, some really innovative things that I thought was standard practice and then realized, you know, after I left Westridge, that that wasn’t common. It was more common that they were in portables or they were not acclimated or included in anything.

Anyway, I enjoyed that and made some good friends there and then got an opportunity to work as an assistant principal. I was doing an internship in Eanes and I got an AP job through some connections that I had made at Westridge and was AP at Lake Travis Middle School, the only AP for 1200 kids. And then I got to be I didn’t know this is where things were.

I tell my son things always happen for a reason. So I lived in Steiner at the time and they were building Hudson Bend and I was a year in, a year and a half in. And I got an opportunity to because I felt like I worked hard and I put teachers first and then the kids and teachers first.

And I got asked to open Hudson Bend Middle School. So I did that. And I’m really proud of the fact that we were back then, the way the demographics were drawn, they had a lot of the bilingual and Hispanic students. And they were concerned about test scores being exemplary and things like that. And they really felt like based on the standards they had, that they would not be with the way they divided up that, you know, they divided up the schools.

And we were exemplary for the … due to an amazing staff who some of them came over here with me for the full three years I was there. And then we went to … I got asked to go to Lake Travis High School when the principal retired there and had a terrific five years there. 

And I don’t know if you know Stu Taylor, but I had kept in touch with Stu Taylor. And I always said, if they ever built this – the Steiner high school is what we called it – to let me know. And there was a time where we were kind of talking about it, but it wasn’t coming to fruition. And then he said, “Well, if you’re serious about it, we are going to start talking about that school.” And actually, Tom Glenn was the superintendent at the time, and he we met and I got offered the job and was excited to do that.

So that’s .. but throughout there, there’s lots of different stories and things that I’m very proud of. But that’s kind of overall. And then opening Vandegrift last 15 years I’ve been here. So.

Leading in a fluid environment of changing ethnic and income diversity (07:05)

You know, it’s interesting, Charlie, when you talk about, you know, going back to your time at the middle school, that perception that because of the demographics that the school would not be exemplary. I think that speaks to the importance of cultural competency, leadership, belief and also seeing the individual student. So your campus, like many other schools, is experiencing a significant increase in both ethnic and income diversity.

Can you tell us what it’s like to lead in such a fluid environment, and how have you been able to enhance campus cohesion in the process, Charlie?

Great. Well, and I realize when people think of diversity, probably Vandegrift other than being an IB program, that it probably doesn’t jump out as a diverse campus. But we have over 50 countries represented with surprisingly, India being one of the biggest, and then followed by Russia, if you can believe it. And then we have 41 languages, and of course, representation in all five of the TEA-identified ethnicities.

And within those languages, there’s even more … So I’ve always felt like we are a very diverse campus, but we’re not a concentrated campus. It’s not, primarily … like Texas-wide, it would be Hispanic, but we do have a strong Hispanic population as well. But it’s not a huge group, right? So it’s kind of spread out.

So that’s one of the things. But what the strength of Vandegrift has always been, in my opinion …  we’re not economically diverse, and when we first opened, we were only about 6% free and reduced in lunch. And maybe to put it in perspective for the listeners, at one point the state of Texas was 60% of the students were on free and reduced lunch and that maybe it vacillates between 50 and 62%. So that obviously is a very low number. But when you’re a school as big as Vandegrift, we were, you know, we’ve been as big as 2,800 students. That’s still, those students we’re really important to our academic success. And what was nice is we’ve always been able to target the students in a way with our resources and staffing that we could really support them.

But it is a group of students that we have seen that we were failing, weren’t meeting their needs and haven’t really … we, I wouldn’t say we figured the code out yet on how to really reach them.

But you’re being more intentional.

We’re really intentional and it comes down to relationships on that. And at some point, I can share kind of an example of a story with this, during one of the hurricanes early on when Vandegrift opened, we had a young lady that was displaced by the hurricane and her family moved here and she was probably three or four years behind in her academics.

She wanted to do well and graduate, but she just didn’t have some of the skills. And I was worried that coming here that she wouldn’t necessarily feel like they would be overwhelmed. The actual opposite happened. Everybody in the school knew who she was, kind of took her under their wing, and she was having trouble passing one last test.

She passed most of her tests while she was here for, at the time it was TAKS, but there was one test … and you didn’t pass, you didn’t graduate. That’s just the way it was. And she just couldn’t do it. And there were many times we’d follow up and she hadn’t passed. And then one day she did. And you would have thought she won the lottery.

She was … everybody in the school knew that she passed. She was going down the hallways and she was so proud and she was so excited. And I realized that in a manageable piece with a student who’s willing to put the risk out there with these relationships, that you could make some really good progress. And there weren’t really there weren’t any limits to that.

But the exception with her is she was willing, she did have to put herself out there and get to let people help her and get to know her in a way.

And that’s part of our growing diversity.

So … and I feel like we have … we can reach all students with different backgrounds if we have … and we do have some advantages where we’re not overwhelmed. So we … it’s kind of incumbent on us to help students in those ways. And I think Vandegrift is a great place for students that come and we don’t and teachers don’t shy away from.

I never hear a teacher say “those students” or, you know, anything like that. It’s let’s get to work and see what we can do to help these kids.

No, because I think a number of things I like to lift up what you said, Charlie. The diversity in terms of income. I mean, your campus ranges from those who are economically disadvantaged to those who are middle class and those who are affluent. And so being able to have a campus where the sense of belonging is something essential to what you and your educators are doing. And I think the story of C is emblematic of that. 

And I also want to lift up the fact that we know that our demographics are changing, but our expectations don’t. And that’s what I hear coming across from you is that, yeah, we’re here for all students, no matter who they are, where they come from. And there are some challenges with students who had a very problematic journey in terms of going to multiple districts.

That continued enrollment piece is one of the things that we see in our data that makes a difference. So being able to account for all those things and still the last piece is the reciprocity piece. I’m big on students. We’re going to do everything we can, but we need for them also to demonstrate their vulnerability by reaching out.

And I know that’s hard for students sometimes who come from marginalized backgrounds. I think about, you know, my journey as someone who was marginalized growing up, that fear of being exposed. You have these feelings of impostership and that fear of having people look at you the way you sometimes see yourself in deficit terms keeps us from reaching out.

And so your staff being aware of that and the work that we’re doing around cultural competency, I think will make more students feel that they can reach out and that if they do fail, we’re going to be here to pick them up.

So we’re all about connections, but the student has to if they’ve had a history of not being let down or or they know they’re going to move in six months. So why am I going to invest in getting to know this person? And then that’s a self-defeating situation that they run into quite, you know, quite often, but also sometimes it’s the challenges that they face outside of school or things at home.

One of the things we’ve had to do as a school is look at our processes like beyond food and lunch, things … when you have AP tests while they’re in the $120 or they may not think that they’re going to take the test because that, well, we have resources. But do they know about the resources? That they’re not going to have to pay anything or a limited amount, those kinds of things. 

So that and just camps like, you know, even like sports people will go, why? Why are we so good in so many sports? And when kids go home and if coach says he needs to go to go to receiver camp, you know that that kid’s going to be in receiver camp that summer and he’s going to it might cost money to do it or in band or they’re going to have the private lessons, you know, and you have to be cognizant of the fact that if a kid is going, is that a barrier to access that you don’t even understand? And the kids not even asking about it because they know they don’t have that. They don’t even know that that doesn’t have to be that way. So those are a couple things. 

And the other thing is coming out of COVID, we have a lot of absenteeism and …

We’re seeing that nationally.

Yes. And I know there’s some stuff coming out lately about the differences on how it affects kids in poverty differently. And you see it where there are kids that are going on trips and missing school. But those are enriching activities. They have tutors or not always, but they have tutors and different things. They’re not going to sacrifice academics to do these things.

And then you have other kids. During COVID, we had kids that were working, you know, during the shortage in restaurants and things, and they would fall behind for it. So it was like in some of that casualness about school attendance is a real silent problem for kids that are missing one or two days a week. And they don’t realize that that’s what that’s doing long term, that kind of thing.

So, yeah, we’ve had to look as a campus, and again, you hire the right people who care. They … if a teacher sees something, they’re empowered to go to the counselor, ask for what can we do? And I can’t remember the last time where we were. We weren’t able to help a kid, a student, when we knew there was a real need. And the community will, you know, we’ve had parents pay for eyeglasses, dental, dental, work, dermatology. We’ve had parents step up in all kinds of ways to help kids. And when that happens. But you have to have that, coming back to that relationship and the trust to know that they can, you know, ask for help or at least accept to help when somebody else’s.

And it’s hard for some kids because I think that a lot of kids are afraid to ask for help who come from economically marginalized environments and in other marginalized environments because they don’t want people to see them in deficit terms. And I think part of cultural competency is getting our teachers to a point where there is no perception of judgment because then the child is more inclined to say, Mr. Little, I really need that help, right?

Yeah. So I think that’s really important. 

Fostering different types of diversity (16:50) 

So I’d like to move on. Can you speak to some of the challenges that you have encountered, Charlie, as a leader while fostering diversity in your campus? And I’m especially interested in any challenges related to fostering diversity of thought.

Well, diversity of thought is probably the the newer administrator challenge because of things going on politically, things even at the state level with people wanting to, you know, have a hand in what are kids taught and what’s off limits, what’s what, you know, what can you talk about, not talk about what books can you read and not read in?

I think as teachers, at least it’s different than when I was in school. We were talking about … when we’re talking about banning a book, it was usually for different reasons than what people are wanting to do now. But it’s very hard to be a teacher and navigate some of these things. And I will say some of their concerns are not necessarily founded on rational, but to the fact “I might get in trouble” or “this may happen.” And it’s been a very, very chilling thing for teachers to deal with.

And as a campus politically, our campus is, you know, has a variety of … people always think teachers are liberal or this or that. But we have a wide variety of opinions and perspectives, as all schools should.

Part of that nuance.

Right. And I would say that the challenges as a principal is supporting your teachers and wanting them to really motivate and get kids engaged with real engaging information without having to fear. I was an English major and I had, you know, from Native American studies to female studies, the different classes that I never would have been experienced as and has shaped me as a person that I never would have had.

So like I feel like with kids already, students come to school and they go to college and they can narrowly they don’t have to take a lot of diverse education. And I don’t mean just diverse by diversity. They just not taking that breadth of of things that they’re not interested in. It’s kind of like if they’re not interested in it, they don’t have to take it, Right.

Well, how do you know you’re interested in it …

Until you’re exposed.

So I think that’s something that’s really important for us at the high school, the high school level.

 And then I would say, you know, people are tired of hearing about COVID, but I think coming out of COVID made our teachers feel empowered and stronger with purpose because they wanted to be with kids and they realized they were essential.

And it feels like the community, not our community, feels like the country has kind of forgotten that teachers were essential during that time. And some of the things I had hoped that this would be I even had mentioned to teachers, something good’s going to come out of this, right? You are recognized for this where I want to see that teachers, you know, and nothing really came out of it … to to.

It wasn’t sustained.

Yeah. And I feel that’s probably the biggest missed opportunity as a society that we didn’t capitalize on that momentum because we needed the teachers. They were putting, you know, in some cases putting their safety and health on the line to be here for schools. 

And one thing for me personally that was challenging is what I kind of call perceptual bias is when I when I go into a room, what am I perceived as?

That’s powerful. 

And sometimes I have to face the fact that I’m seen as an old white person that probably is out of touch with what’s really goi ng on. And, you know, it’s hard to go to … to be part of the narrative and the discussion if I’m always starting out having to overcome that. And then, of course, somebody has to, you know, see what are you really about?

You know, I’ve been doing this for 30 years. I work with all different kinds of kids, but I’m self-aware to realize when I meet a parent I may not seem, because of their experiences. And the thing is, it’s okay that I can’t say I know completely what you’re experiencing in in, but you have to let me say that to at least in not as an excuse, but if I genuinely tell you I know that I don’t completely understand this issue, but I’m here to help your your student in and share with me, you know, those things.

So perceptually, I think that’s something that teachers across my campus have. So one of the things that I know there was discomfort with some of the student behaviors that we started to see that we’ve always had, but we started to see where teachers were reticent to confront behaviors because they felt like it was going to become a racial or a cultural issue and then would end up doing a disservice to the student.

Because then they’re not getting consequences correctly for whatever or being heard or listened to in a way, because they were just let to go on about their business. That was not probably helping them be successful. So that would be one of the things as a campus, I would say is something we’re still working on because this is kind of all of our responsibility, not just APs who have to come in and interact and even with APs, we talk about a lot.

So I didn’t feel comfortable telling that student to do this or that, you know, and I know if I do, it’s going to be a 30-minute blowout because of who I am. I’m not I’m not somebody. Now, if another teacher that they have a relationship does it, it’s not the same outcome. But so that would be one of the things I would say we are continuing to work on.

Well, I think that’s very honest, though, Charlie, because I think that one of the ironies of this moment is that we spent as a country the last 8 to 10 years focusing on equity and inclusion. But at the same time, you show up and you just happen to be a white male. And there are some people who automatically want to exclude you from the conversation.

And by doing that, we’re excluding possible resources and resolution because and I love what you said earlier, if we don’t hold kids accountable we’re not demonstrating that we believe in them, my words, not yours, but because accountability, rigor is the greatest thing that we can do to show students that we believe in them. And I know that there are some. And I love the honesty.

There are some educators who are reticent to do that because they don’t want to be called a racist. They don’t want to be singled out. But the thing I always say to people is this and Dr. Gearing talks about driving the fear out of the system. If we are holding kids accountable and we’re consistent in the application of that accountability, we may be criticized, but we will withstand that because we’re doing what’s best for kids.

I grew up economically marginalized. I grew up in a problematic city, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. But the teachers I remember … I don’t remember what they taught me so much. I remember how they made me feel, how they held me accountable. When I saw who I could be reflected in their eyes no matter what color the teacher was. Those are the teachers I connected with.

Right. To kind of pivot a little bit more to your diversity piece is with the situation in Gaza. And you know, before that happened, we did not really ever talk about it or hear anything about it. And this has really generated some discussion with our students and things have come up that I did never I would never think that I would see at Vandegrift because of the strong feelings on both sides and valid points that each side has.

And it started to show up more in student issues. And that was one of those things where it wasn’t on our horizon. So we had to learn a little bit more about it. I’m still learning quite a bit. I have an AP who is able to and I can ask her anything. I said, All right, what does this mean? You know, why is this significant? Why did Chuck Schumer’s speech rile some people? What is this all about? 

And she was able to kind of, you know, help me process it, but again, is constantly evolving. I’m building strong relationships with kids to trust so that when these things come up, that they feel like they’re heard and they’re valued.

And even when they don’t, they don’t necessarily agree. And then when there’s these conflicts that arise, like in that situation where it’s two groups of students that are they’re not the majority at the school but are very passionate about it and are affected in a way like we started, you know, with Ramadan, really trying to educate teachers on what that just little simple things, just so you don’t have to understand everything about it, but you need to understand why is it why are they tired? Why are you hungry? Why, why, why?

And can we adjust our practice in a way?

We do what we would do for other people in similar situations. So I would say that those types of things are a very fluid environment, as you said at the start, and you have to adapt. But it all comes back to do you have the staff that are willing to put the work in and relationships And I feel like that’s my biggest strength.

Like you don’t hear it too much in the other. Our students are … I think we underestimate our students. I very rarely have student-on-student kind of issues with racism and hate. When we do. Where it’s bigger that have to see is in Texas. But in general, I’m very encouraged by our students because they’re socially active, engaged. You know.

What I seek for all of our students is for them to be seen as individuals. You’ve often heard me say this. You’ve heard me present. I am a black man. I’m very proud of that. But before anything else, I’m DeWayne. And so I want because people will ask me, you know, how do I connect with this group of students or this student group?

And I always come back to one thing: Take that out of it. Ask yourself, how do I connect with this child in front of me? Because then you remove any narrative you may have where bias may be residing because you’re seeing the individual person. Right? And so I think as adults we always have to model that. It sounds like that’s happening here.

And sometimes it, you know, it takes time and sometimes go.

Takes a lot of time sometimes.

With teachers, you may not have a long enough interaction to impact that parent or it’s not your responsibility to convince them that you’re this or that. It’s more about what I always ask the teacher is, are you doing the right thing for the kid.

A parent, maybe brought a lot of other things to the table, but do you feel and typically, I know the student knows that that teacher cares about them and they’re not here. The teachers aren’t here. If they don’t like kids, this job’s too hard. You don’t care about kids?

Favorite educator (27:40)

I agree. So I want to continue our conversation by asking you to reflect on your favorite memory while you are an educator. I know you mentioned that you started out … you got the alternative certification to be a special education teacher. I would be interested in learning also about your time as a classroom teacher and who was your favorite teacher.

In middle school? I was at Columbus, Nebraska. In middle school I was seventh through ninth grade, and I only remember one teacher and his name was Mr. Wattenpaw.

Mr. Wattonpaw?

Mr. Wattonpaw. And he was a shop teacher and he was probably from the Greatest Generation. He probably was a veteran at the time. I wouldn’t have probably known that, but he had all the accouterments of his pocket protectors and his apron, and he was the real deal shop teacher when we used to have more of shop.

Right now all of our young listeners are Googling pocket protectors.

Exactly what they’re going to need to Google what a plane is too. So I had just a shaping plane and one of the things we had to work on was looking at getting the blade height right and you had to eyeball it. And it’s a very .. dial it in with … manually with your hand and get that blade just right. So it would shave off paper thin piece of paper, and he’d come by and examine you, inspect your work and three or four times. 

And I wasn’t doing a very good job. And after the last time I was frustrated and I took the blade and I jammed it into the table. And he heard that. And he came back and he said, you know, Charlie, you know, these are your tools. This might be your livelihood. This is how I make my living. And you disrespected my tools in my shop. And he said he wasn’t angry and he talked to me and we talked about why that was an issue.

And then he made me do it, sit there and do it correctly. And then he didn’t do a referral, he didn’t call my parents. He just said, you know, what have you learned? And I would repeat it. And I just thought what a pleasant surprise, because I had had a lot of negative interactions with him just in general, even being a relatively good kid in middle school, I just felt like most of my interactions were negative and I felt like that he showed me that to to reach somebody, you have to really you know, sometimes you have to shock them with your with your behavior by not doing what’s expected, not yelling not … and then I remember him to this day.  He passed away probably the year after I left. 

I’m all about relationships, developing people. I wasn’t a great teacher because of the structure. But at the end of the day, my lessons were changed with the classes because I was starting to get bored with it. So the administration is always changing, but you’re still set. You still have to have the relationships, but you’re not locked into the schedule. So I told the teachers I’m a better administrator than a teacher. And one of the things that I didn’t talk about is I’m very proud of the fact that I’ve been part of developing many administrators. I think I was … almost every AP I’ve ever had has become a principal or AD. I have some that are superintendents. And to me helping … my legacy, as a person, I feel like is all those people going out and continuing that same … we were like-minded. I didn’t shape their philosophy, but we were like-minded of caring for kids. And then … and I like to think that giving people those opportunities is something that I’m proud of.

No, I would agree is the multiplier effect. You know, we talk a lot about coaching trees. When you look at people like Nick Saban, I think educators have coaching trees as well, people that we play a little part in helping them get to the next level where they can maximize their impact. And that’s one of the things that I relish at this point in my career. And also one of the things that I truly missed when I left the classroom. 

The importance of celebrating diversity (31:39)

This is April, which is Celebrate Diversity Month. And in your opinion, Charlie, why is it important for us as a system to celebrate diversity?

Well, I think as a system, if you believe in relationships and that everybody says that they want … most people will say they want relationships is important. You know, you have their heart before you get their mind, those kinds of things. But if you really believe that and you’re not willing to accept people in for their differences, strengths, and if you’re really not willing to do that, then I think that you do a disservice to the … and that’s what I think companies and people that try to try to be inclusive realize there’s strength in that and that perspectives that people bring.

And if you don’t really, if you don’t really believe that or you’re not willing to engage in that, you know, but I will say it takes work because sometimes you might like … I know sometimes I’d love to have a more diverse friend group. I just don’t. I mean, I don’t … this doesn’t seem to happen sometimes.

It’s that intentionality again.

Right. But you have to like … But I also think that one of the things when you’re celebrating diversity is the strengths that people can bring and that you don’t want everybody to be all the same. And I think we missed something. I think in the old days when we had a draft and things like that, I think our parents were thrown into situations with diversity, economic, where it was kind of … the military was a great equalizer.

You were around not always some people, but there were people who you were around different people and you had you went to different countries, you were exposed to different things. And I feel like we’ve taken a step back where we have kids that have never left Texas, never left Austin in some cases. And in not having that global perspective and the diversity.

But another thing that you had mentioned is modeling the parents, modeling it. But what I found is that has a big influence. But also I’ve seen students defy parents that maybe don’t celebrate diversity in the students. As a generation, they do. And it’s because they’re getting input and they’re learning from other places than just their parents like you because they’re so it might be the better aspect of social media in some of those things is that they are exposed to different things.

So I think that if you’re going to be honest about relationships, you got to be willing to accept people. But it’s a two way street. The person you’re accepting needs to also accept what you’re bringing. And if you’re going to have a real relationship with that person, like you had said earlier, the goal is eventually to get to a point where we’re not we’re not focused on that.

And accepting diversity means trying to understand, you know, what might be driving some of the things you don’t understand.

No, I think that’s well stated. And I think it’s part of the whole diversity of thought piece, which, it’s for all of us to model that and to demonstrate that because the more we can learn about the why, the more we can address the situation and move towards resolution. 

Closing (34:48)

All right. So is there anything else, Charlie, you like to share with us today?

No, I just on a personal note I want to appreciate … I was skeptical about your position and the kind of work that would be done. And I know that there was a lot of conversations about that and just have enjoyed. And I’ve grown personally and learned from you and you’ve opened up some things, which is what I think that role is. But you’ve also done it in a thoughtful way that made me feel comfortable, asking some of those things and sharing some of those things. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to do this podcast was for you. It doesn’t necessarily … I don’t feel like I always need to share what I think, but I wanted to be engaged in the conversation with you because I enjoy what I learn when we talk.

Well, sir, thank you so much for that. I mean, it’s been reciprocal for me. I’ve enjoyed every conversation we’ve had. 

So I want to thank you for joining us today. Charlie. We truly appreciate you being here today. And I hope that our listeners found value in our discussion. VHS and LISD are fortunate to have leaders like you in our midst, and all of our students and our staff are better because of you.

I appreciate it. Thank you for taking the time and letting me brag on our staff and students a little bit.

Well-deserved. Thank you, sir.