Trailblazers, Pioneers, Mavericks and Troublemakers

When I grow up, I want to be…a troublemaker!” Of course, most parents don’t want to hear their child utter these words, but I want to ask you to consider a different perspective.

Jennie T. Anderson

Miss Jennie, pictured sitting on her father’s lap

Every fall, new members are inducted into the National Honor Society (NHS) at The Walker School.  During the induction ceremony, everyone in attendance is told that Walker’s NHS chapter is named for Jennie Tate Anderson, for whom the nearby Marietta Civic Center is named. As the speaker describes “Miss Jennie” and her accomplishments, the audience learns the four words that best describe her: “Trailblazer, Pioneer, Maverick and Troublemaker.” Most parents would enjoy watching a son or daughter blaze a new trail or be considered a pioneer in his or her field, but a maverick or troublemaker?

Think of all the people in history who were labeled “troublemakers” before they were given credit for changing the world for the better. It’s a “Who’s Who” list of epic proportions: Rosa Parks, Gandhi, George Washington, Susan B. Anthony, Nelson Mandela, Malala Yousafzai, and Martin Luther King, just to name a few. Each of these people dreamed of a better road to freedom and each was willing to persevere against great obstacles in order to see a dream come true.

From my perspective, many so-called “troublemakers” get that reputation because they ask penetrating questions about why something is the way it is. And when the response to that question is “That’s the way it has always been,” the “troublemaker” is inspired to start a movement to end segregation or apartheid, or work tirelessly so that women have the right to vote or access to an education.  Steve Jobs, founder of Apple, once famously praised the world’s troublemakers, noting that “they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”  

At Walker, we encourage our students to ask hard questions, be engaged, and look for ways to make a difference. In essence, we want Walker students and graduates to be “difference makers.”  When I asked her granddaughter, Interim Middle School Division Head Katherine Harrison, why “Miss Jennie” was referred to as a “troublemaker,” she said it was because she was always speaking up for those who would not or could not speak for themselves.  To me, that sounds more like a “difference maker” than a “troublemaker.”  In the spirit of Jennie Tate Anderson, let’s continue to raise up a new generation of “difference makers.”

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This entry was posted in Head of School, Schoolwide by Jack Hall. Bookmark the permalink.

About Jack Hall

Jack Hall is the Head of School at The Walker School in Marietta, Georgia. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre at Davidson College and holds a Master of Science in Athletic Administration from Georgia State University and a Master of Arts in Education Administration from Columbia University where he was also a Klingenstein Fellow at Columbia University.

One thought on “Trailblazers, Pioneers, Mavericks and Troublemakers

  1. Thanks for the perspective Jack! The world is full of followers. It’s those people who are passionate about what they do that really stand out. Whether it’s helping others, excelling in sports, or finding a solution to a problem, hardwork, focus, and commitment will go far in the long run. We were one of those families that had to evaluate every year whether sending out kids to Walker was the right decision and something we could afford to continue to do. We were so committed to giving our boys the best education we could that we were going to find a way to keep them there. So glad we did. To think we’re just a few years away from being tuition free is exciting but has been worth every penny.

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