last week, i began a fellowship for my school network. the program recruits talented individuals from various networks and develops them into future leaders.

it was already an exhausting tuesday. i had rescheduled this orientation meeting twice. made excuses for other dinner plans, impromptu exhaustion. made a few parent phone calls. whatever.

i made it to our network office and was one of eleven professionals, dressed in banana republic-hipster crossbred variations of business casual. the twelve of us, the program director included, took our seats. we folded place cards with icons at the end of our names.

the director glanced at the clock. at 5:32 pm, he stated: “this program is your atypical charter leadership program.” it took a great deal of self-discipline to control my facial expressions. a leadership member gives me feedback on how my eyebrows betray my thoughts.

what was atypical? which part was the charter? what type of leader should i aspire to this tuesday?

the day was too long, entirely too long for these mental acrobatics. i snapped out of my daydream.

the director continued. he talked about how the project had morphed, changed, and incorporated outer elements from different companies, especially non-education companies. my ears perked overtime. and i became more and more alert. invigorated. the director talked us through a life map, but one that illustrated our futures. the members of our contingent would sketch various totems to envision goals for the next five years of our life. he encouraged us to combine our professional and personal goals. for most educators, the boundaries blur easily between the professional and personal.

teachers spend hours at their schools. jolt themselves awake to 4 am alarms. we grade. and grade. and grade some more. we carry our students and their stories home with us. take phone calls from parents. it becomes overwhelming. quickly.

the map only took me five or six minutes out of the allotted 15. i took a bio break and came back. i discovered that everyone else had paired off. so did the director. he joined me and we talked about my map. throughout our conversation, i grounded all of these ideas in these little totems. the drawings throughout the session sustained me and kept me mentally active.

of course, my students needed the same thing. but how am i supposed to provide that? design the curriculum.

the point, my imagination conjured five pictures that kept me grounded in purpose. those pictures provided a vision. when do we continue to stimulate the imagination of our children? stimulating the imagination is critical to finding solutions and creating affirmations that help make students of color successful.

imagination saves my life daily. the improvisational moments of joy capture the emotions that intensify the investment in the trajectory of our lives. we live for the moments where we laugh, cry, dance, and scream. imagination is the driving force behind all of the work i do, as an educator, brother, and creative.

imagination, especially black ones are more important to develop than grit and perfect posture. imagination is the key to the future of our children.