Sunday, November 23, 2014

Sharing Joyful Moments


I remember growing up and reading books.  As a youngster I enjoyed repetition.  One of my favorite stories was, The Little Engine That Could.  Most of you know this is a story about believing in ones self.  I also believe it is about attitude and mindset.  When the Little Engine encountered the hill, it could have easily given up, but it didn't...and the rest is history.

For most educators the school year began at the end of August or the beginning of September.  It has been a long stretch for students and staff.  Essentially we've all been at it for roughly sixty days. Whether you are five years old or fifty this can take a toll.  What I see is fatigue, less patience and increased physicality's.  

Some days we can all feel beaten down as we manage behaviors and try our best to keep order. There has been stretches where I have felt stuck in the office being the disciplinarian.  For me it's easy to fall into a rut when I feel as though I'm simply "managing." 

When I fall into a rut a few things jump start me.  If your first 60+ days has challenged you, try one of these ideas:

1)  Write Notes to Staff/Colleagues  - This is one of my favorite activities.  I find lots of joy in lifting people up around me.

2)  Spend tons of time with kids - A great way to lift your spirit is by visiting classrooms, playing at recess or attending events that occur outside of school.

3)  Read - I have a couple of books and several blogs that I read.  Reading gets me thinking and often creates a couple of prompts:  "How could I..."  and "I'm going to...".

4)  Writing - Ten years ago I would have never said this, but now I find writing to be reflective and therapeutic.  

5)  Sign up for a conference or an EdCamp - Collaborating with educators is a great way to snap oneself into a more positive mental spot.

6)  Assist a family in need - There's just something about helping others that makes most people feel good inside.

7)  Lean on your faith - Often times we lose focus of our faith in times of stress and anxiety.  

8)  Get Creative - As a classroom teacher I often believed the more dynamic my lesson the less I would have to manage.  Simply put, I tried to make learning exciting.  It was a great feeling to see the smiles on kids faces.

9)  Take Pictures - This is one of my favorite things to do.  I take my phone or iPad out and click pictures of people in happy spots.  I enjoy sharing these photos with others and spreading the joy.

That brings me to my final number.  Number ten is one that has the ability to fluctuate.  Number ten often is more about others than it is about me.  Number ten is... trying something new.



Four years ago I tried something new...I started blogging.
Last year @colbysharp and I started the Panthers Podcast.
Just two weeks ago out came the The Warner Star

The latest endeavor is The Warner Star and in a nutshell, it is all about student voice.  My plan is to meet with students, ask a few questions, do lots of listening and share the experience with others as a podcast.  If you haven't listened to the first one, I strongly urge you to click on the link below:


Every day instances occur that have the ability to bring us down, we're faced with the proverbial fork in the road.  We always have a choice in how we react.  

How do you pick yourself up in times of stress?  What do you do to feel a sense of happiness?  Do you share joyful moments?

NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Monday, November 24th:  String Team 3:45pm
Monday, November 24th:  No after school clubs this week
Tuesday, November 25th:  Admin meeting 9am
Thursday, November 27th:  Happy Bday to Laura Smith

Thanksgiving Break Wednesday, November 26th until Monday, December 1st


Articles Worth Reading:



Flipped Mindset @Glennr1809

Making it Stick @Jeff_Zoul






Videos Worth Watching:


Super Cool Science Experiments with Kevin Delaney and Jimmy Fallon (4 min)



Ellen shares Technology of yesterday with today's kids (7 min)



Life is your Talents Discovered...by Sir Ken Robinson (10 min)









Sunday, November 16, 2014

What if...


What if everyone strived to be better tomorrow than they are today?

What if all kids had a loving family?

What if all schools and all families partnered together to help kids?

What if people stopped making excuses?

What if all families read to their kids?

What if educational systems could be proactive instead of reactive?

What if our government put education as a priority?

What if we all had fewer families in our schools living in crisis/poverty?

What if so many kids didn't grow up in split households?

What if diversity was embraced by everyone?

What if people didn't gossip?

What if more people were willing to step out of their comfort zone?

What if everyone took time each day to be thankful?

What if all people were kinder than necessary?

What if "your word" was your most important possession?

What if we stopped giving participation ribbons?

What if our main goal was to teach students how to learn?

What if people didn't take disagreements personal?

What if gifted students had the same supports as struggling students?



I assume some people will read my list of What If's and call me a dreamer.  For me, I'm good with that.  I strive to improve every day and I do this through learning, reflecting and experiencing.  I compiled the above What If's over the course of last week.  At one point I counted 36 "What If's," then I decided to narrow.  My final count is...19.  If you could add just one to my list, what would #20 be?


NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Monday, November 17th:  4-5pm Lego Club
Monday, November 17th:  Happy Bday to Chris Kline
Monday, November 17th:  3:45 String Team
Tuesday, November 18th:  1st Grade to Safetyville
Tuesday, November 18th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Wednesday, November 19th:  Grades K-2 Assembly 8:45
Wednesday, November 19th:  3pm Writing Share with Brad Wilson (In Mrs. Brugger's classroom)
Wednesday, November 19th:  3-4pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, November 19th:  3:45 String Team
Thursday, November 20th:  CP Federal Credit Union in the PM
Thursday, November 20th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Thursday, November 20th:  School Board Meeting 6:30pm
Sunday, November 23rd:  Happy Bday to Suzanne Gibbs


Articles Worth Reading:

Are We Raising a Generation of Helpless Kids? @HuffingtonPost

It's the Poverty, Stupid @HuffingtonPost

8 Things You Should Never Feed To Dogs and Cats @alternet

There is always something good @pernilleripp

5 Ways to Make Your Classroom Fun (not chaotic) @Angela_Watson

I've Been Doing This For The Past 13 Years... @justintarte

When you say, #GeniusHour "isn't enough"...You're missing the point @ajjuliani

Roots and Wings @Jeff_Zoul

9 Tips for Smarter Teaching with YouTube @TeachThought

The 10 Most Important Questions You Can Ask Yourself Today @marcandangel


Videos Worth Watching:

All about sharing... (3 min)



School should take place in the Real World (16 min)




#MyFamilyIsWeird (2 min)




Ellen goes to Target...this is awesome! (3 min)



Sunday, November 9, 2014

What came first the Chicken or the Egg?

I'm throwing a wrinkle at the age old question.  Here's my version -

What comes first healthy school culture or strong test scores?

The obvious statement is, do you have to choose?  

I view myself as a life long learner and much of my learning comes from reading, listening and personal experience.  A couple of books I've gained a lot from are:


and 


"Good people know that high stakes testing has limited value and they keep operating anyway.  They don't let testing get in the way of doing the good work they want to do to get kids prepared for life.
-Todd Whitaker

Todd's exactly right!  Most schools are working as hard as possible and it is imperative to focus on helping kids be prepared for life.

I interact with many educators on a regular basis and I hear three things that come up over and over. 

1) Data Driven
2) Budget 
3) Test Scores

Recently I heard these topics come up and I simply stated, "That's a shame. Shouldn't we be focusing on students?  

A few days ago I had a debate on social media about data and culture.  I found myself frustrated. During my educational career I've watched the pendulum shift multiple times.  I see times where the focus is squarely on numbers and then I've also witnessed times when relationships take center stage. What I'm about to share may be viewed as a weakness, but I stand by my beliefs.

At the heart of a successful school/classroom/district is putting relationships first.  My philosophy is this:  An atmosphere that puts students first, focuses on relationship building and establishes an environment where students love to learn is one where the data will take care of itself.

I'm not a Data Hater, but I've come to learn that data can be manipulated and often doesn't tell the whole story.  Have you ever had a parent approach you and tell you they want their child in a certain school because they have strong test scores?  

I have.  

My response is often one that creates dialogue.  I share our philosophy, our programs and our passion for kids.  I don't share scores or data.  It simply isn't my focus.  

When I hear parents bring up test scores I sometimes feel disconnected.  I'm a parent.  My child's test scores are not a big priority.  When I think of a school for my kids I think of these things:

1)  A school that is safe
2)  Educators that are passionate 
3)  A school that is welcoming to families and student-centered
4)  Opportunities & Programs for students
5)  A school that my child enjoys

As I share all of that I feel the need to also share a story about data.  A while back I was sitting at my classroom desk.  I was looking at my class list and I was checking my notes. What I was doing was simply going down the line and trying to gauge or predict how my students would do on an upcoming social studies test.  As I finished looking at my list I confidently believed that my class average would be between 87% and 92%.  My test was not a piece of cake, it was twenty-six questions long and had a mixture of Bloom's Taxonomy.  

Before I handed out the test I sat on the corer of a desk and I looked at my class.  I told them that I was very confident that they would do well.  I told them I really didn't think I needed to give the test. At this point one of my students said, "It's okay, Mr. Gilpin, we're ready!"

That night I took the tests home and graded them.  My class average was 89%.  As I looked at the data I discovered two questions tripped my students up.  I was confident that my wording was the issue, not the students' knowledge.

To me this was valuable data.  Not a standardized test score.  

This Week's Big Questions:  Where do you stand?  Is data at the center of your decision making or is it about relationships?

NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Monday, November 10th:  AM Tornado Drill
Monday, November 10th:  Conference Week
Monday, November 10th:  Book Fair Opens
Monday, November 10th:  4-5pm Lego Club
Monday, November 10th:  3:45 String Team
Tuesday, November 11th:  Veteran's Day
Tuesday, November 11th:  9am Admin Meeting
Tuesday, November 11th:  PTO Conference Dinner for Staff
Tuesday, November 11th:  4-5pm Minecraft Club
Wednesday, November 12th:  Grades 3-5 Assembly 8:45am
Wednesday, November 12th:  3-4pm Board Game Club
Wednesday, November 12th:  3:45 String Team
Thursday, November 13th:  PTO Conference Dinner for Staff
Friday, November 14th:  Picture Retake Day 9 - 12pm
Friday, November 14th:  Happy Bday to Angie Pratt
Sunday, November 16th:  Happy Bday to Katie Powers

Articles Worth Reading:











The letter Y @jonharper70bd


Videos Worth Watching:

Arms Wide Open... (16 min)



Dog Tested...Dog Approved! (30 secs)



Egg Russian Roulette (4 min)



Videos on Ellentube... (2 min)


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Eggshells in the classroom?


One of the most famous educational quotes ever spoken was by George Evans.  He stated, "Every student can learn, just not on the same day, or the same way."

My belief is similar, I believe all students can succeed.

A few years ago my son had a student in his classroom.  The student's name was Wade.  The year my son was in class with him was a real struggle.  As a parent I heard my son complain about the boy. Each time I sat down with him and listened.  Then I encouraged him to stand up for himself, to speak with an adult and I also taught him to walk away.  Day after day the stories continued. As parents we talked with the teacher and we were assured the situation was being monitored closely.

Unfortunately it wasn't just that Wade pushed and hit, he also made the learning difficult in the classroom.  Our son came home with marks on his paper.  I asked him what these markings were...Drew said, "Wade wrote on my paper."  I could tell young Wade either had it in for my child or was disrupting the learning environment for many kids.

Then it happened.

I received a phone call from the school.  I was informed that my son had fallen off a piece of equipment and he was hurt.  My wife went and picked him up.  When she walked in she could tell Drew wasn't himself.  He looked groggy and sad.  She immediately decided to take him to the doctor and have him checked out.  Before she left she asked Drew what had happened.  Drew said, "Wade pushed me."  I know my wife and I know that inside she was fuming.  Once they arrived at the doctor Drew was taken back for an x-ray.  After a bit of time the doctor came out and told us...Drew had a broken arm.

As parents we said all the right things and told him he was going to be fine.  I also told him that his Uncle Nick broke his arm as a boy and he turned out to be a doctor.  We really tried to pump Drew up.  But inside we were both at our wits end.  Our family endured a trying year, we met with the school and the teacher, but those were just band-aids.  We had to get our son away from young Wade.

As a parent this story is how one child can destroy a safe learning environment.  As an educator I will share this...

I believe all kids can succeed!  I will stand behind that statement for the rest of my days, but take a good look at that statement...it doesn't say all kids will succeed in every classroom or every school. As educators we must solve the complex puzzle of students.  How do they learn best?  What are their motivators?  What are the strengths and weaknesses? Education is not a one-size fits all approach. Being an educator has allowed me to experience many success stories.  I live for the underdog that turns things around and flourishes!  Yet occasionally we are thrown with severe challenges.  In my 15 years of education I have witnessed so many successes that I can't even count them.  Unfortunately I have endured some unfortunate events that still sit with me.

Five years ago I had a child that was simply on the edge.  There were many days that nothing negative would occur.  But then something would set the student off and when he lost it, it was like an explosion went off.  I'll never forget the time I watched the student throw a chair, swear profusely and whip a pair of scissors at people trying to help him.  After this occurred the general consensus was fear.  Day to day I could see the fear in classmates eyes.  Many students did not want to interact with the boy.  It was an atmosphere of walking on egg-shells.

As educators we tried hard to NOT poke the bear.


So this leads me to my thoughts.  When we talk about creating a successful and safe learning environment we often think this includes ALL students.  But what if ALL doesn't mean ALL?  What if one student creates an unsafe learning environment?  Does this then mean, The Good of All Supersedes the Good of One?

I used to believe ALL meant ALL.  Now I believe this, the one thing every family expects is their child will be safe and have the opportunity to learn.  This is expected.  

My stance has evolved over time.  Personal experiences have shaped my beliefs.  If one student creates an unsafe learning environment or disrupts the opportunity for others to learn, we as educators must be willing to put the needs of the whole over the needs of one.  I still believe all students can succeed, but maybe not in a room with 25 other students.

This Week's Big Question:  Have you ever had one student change the entire dynamic of your classroom or school?

NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Tuesday, November 4th:  PTO Meeting 7pm
Tuesday, November 4th:  9am Tech Meeting
Wednesday, November 5th:  CP Federal Credit Union Assembly (All grades in Gym) 8:45am
Wednesday, November 5th:  Report Card data due
Thursday, November 6th:  Tornado Drill AM
Thursday, November 6th:  4pm School Improvement Meeting
Friday, November 7th:  Report Cards go home
Friday, November 7th:  Staff Meeting 8am in Mrs. Struck's room

Articles Worth Reading:

Dear Teacher @TonySinanis

No More Scores, Only Feedback @Jennifer_Hogan

Making Connections @DJrSchug

Silver Linings @Jonharper70bd

Learning Walls @Jeff_Zoul

Making Difficult Parent-Teacher Conferences Easier @gpescatore25

6 Changes Towards Personalized Learning @pernilleripp

Partner with Parents @scholastic

2 Secret Tricks of Highly Productive, Self-Disciplined People @marcandangel


Videos Worth Watching:

Wheel of Impressions with Kevin Spacey (5 min)



Ellen sends "Scandal" to a Haunted House... (2 min)




The Best of Ellen Scares... (2 min)



Voices of #michED (1 min)



Together... (2 min)



Crazy...just crazy (2 min)





Sunday, October 26, 2014

It's Not What You Say...


I often meet with kids that have had some sort of dispute.  What I quickly discover is that there has been a breakdown in communication.  Once I listen to the multiple versions of what occurred I then begin to play moderator as we all try to solve the issue.

It's interesting, so often problems arise from a breakdown in communication or possibly a person's tone.  Recently I met with a young lady, she came into my office and began to cry.  She informed me that her friends don't like her anymore.  I listened.  I had noticed a change in the girl and I was curious if she had any idea why she was losing friends.  As she talked about the year she deflected all responsibility and blamed others for being mean and not spending time with her and not listening to her.

I pondered my response and then I looked at her.  I said, "Can I share a story with you?"  The young lady fought back the tears and nodded her head yes.  

The story began with me as a youngster in church.  Growing up I honestly wasn't a huge fan of church.  But week in and week out my parents made me go.  One thing I looked forward to was the donuts afterwards.  I'll admit, getting to eat 2-3 donuts as a ten year old is always enticing.  With that as the backdrop I then told her about an unfortunate Sunday morning.  

I knew the routine...go to church, grab a donut and sit there while my parents talked for 30 minutes. This happened every week (or so it seemed).  On this day church ended and I scurried off to grab a large vanilla topped cinnamon roll!  I hopped in line right behind an older couple.  I was trying to peer around them and see which one I was going to grab, when suddenly the older lady looked at me and said, "You will wait your turn, young man!"  

At this point I looked at the little girl in my office and said, "that's what she said...you'll wait your turn." She looked at me and said, that's it?  I then said, "Almost."

It's tough to truly describe this situation, but I must tell you, the lady didn't simply say, wait your turn, she said it in a very mean, snarly way.  I can still feel that tone...it was an angry, mean tone that made me feel awful.  

The girl in my office was looking down at my carpet.  (Personally I don't think my carpet is anything special, but she had her head down looking at the floor.)  She then said, "I know what you mean Mr. Gilpin, I've had people talk to me that way."  We then talked about her feelings and then I asked her if she ever talked to people she cared about in a mean way.  At this point the tears began to well up. I could tell she was beginning to see the point to my story.  She said, "Mr. Gilpin, I don't mean to talk that way, it just happens when they don't do what I ask."  I then told her that the way she was treating her friends was causing her to lose friends.  

Looking her in the eye that afternoon and telling her that she has the power to make it right was a nice way to wrap things up.  As she walked out she stopped at the door and told me thanks.  I could tell by her tone that she was grateful and that's all I was hoping for.

The point to the story is, It's Not What You Say, It's How You Say It!  I'm a true believer that your tone says a lot.

As educators we interact and communicate with kids every day.  Our tone can turn a kid on or off to a situation.  Kids are smart, they can tell if an adult cares.  You know how kids can tell?

They hear your tone.

When we think about tone, think of these three things:

1)  We're often unaware of what someone is feeling under the surface.  

2)  Be careful to engage in contentious conversations when you are in a foul mood.  

3)  Even the nicest of comments won't mean much if you say it with a negative or sarcastic tone.

This Week's Big Questions:  As your patience wanes does your tone get more harsh?  Are you always aware of the tone you give to kids?

NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Monday, October 27th:  AM Lockdown drill
Monday, October 27th:  4th grade to IndianBrook Farms
Monday, October 27th:  String Team 3:45-4:30
Tuesday, October 28th:  Admin Meeting 9am
Tuesday, October 28th:  Bible Release
Wednesday, October 29th:  Grades 3-5 Morning Assembly
Thursday, October 30th:  2pm Halloween Parade (outdoors unless rain)
Friday, October 31st:  No Students, Teacher Professional Development

Articles Worth Reading:

Making that redo/retake policy actually work @justintarte

Closing the Deal @Jeff_Zoul

How Teachers Can Motivate Students @MindShiftKQED

Change your wipers! @GenieneD

Hope with skin on @laughwithchad

I'm tired of hearing 'we are preparing kids for college and the real world...' @justintarte

Literacy O' Lanterns @GustafsonBrad

Plight of the Innovator @Venspired

18 Great Reminders When You're Having a Bad Day @marcandangel


Videos Worth Watching:

CNN Heroes (2 min)



Fergie & Ellen Play Heads-Up (2 min)



Stay in the Moment! (10 min)



#HalloweenFail (2 min)




Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Importance of Being Present

I remember the conversation as though it was yesterday.  The date was July 22, 2010.  I met with the Superintendent after being recommended for hire by the committee.  I was a bit nervous going into the meeting, I had never met Mr. Smajda and I wasn't sure how he would take me.  I sat down in his office and simply tried to be myself.  We talked philosophy, community and education.  I shared anything and everything and felt very comfortable.  As the meeting wrapped up I felt good about my potential new boss and I was fired up to begin a new chapter in my life.  Just as we were about to finish I mentioned to Mr. Smajda that I did not own a cell phone  (yes, this was 2010).  He told me that it wasn't a requirement, but that I may want to get one.

Up until that point my philosophy was simple.  If you can't reach me, I don't want to be reached.  I know, I know...I was young and naive.

What I discovered after purchasing my first cell phone was that I was distracted.  I went from never on a phone, to being on it constantly.  I had zero balance.

I will admit I still have moments that my connectivity is very high.  Some of my days involve putting out a "fire" or expecting a very important message.  Other days, I feel as though the balance is improving.

What I like about cell phones and similar devices is that the information is in the palm of your hand. If I need assistance I can get it in a blink of an eye.  I also like the fact that I can "share our story" through pictures, tweets, phone calls and emails.  This is an important feature in being transparent, relevant and positive.

What I don't like about cell phones and devices is that they can become a crutch.  For example, I began teaching in the year 2000.  At that time, I had no projector, no Smart Board, no iPads, no cell phones...nothing.  I had one teacher computer and one student computer.  And guess what...I was perfectly fine.  My lessons were hands-on, I utilized visuals through imagination, video (I would use a VHS recorder and bring in tapes) and drawings.  For years I didn't have resources in the palm of my hand and I was just fine.  I believe my students were fine as well.  

Then along came 21st Century Teaching!  I'll admit, I was excited for my first smartboard and projector in the classroom.  It revolutionized how I taught.  I felt as though I could "enhance" my lessons and truly help my growing number of visual learners.  I loved the technology and my students responded very well to it.  The interactive component to the Smart Board allowed for a new way to formative assess and the projector allowed me to ditch the old VHS recordings.  

But then came the day when my Smart Board wasn't working and then my projector began to overheat.  Oh dear!  I was in a panic, how would I teach?  What would I do?  I specifically remember calling the help desk and just being angry.

Later that night I was trying to figure out what to do the next day.  It was at this moment that I had my own self-talk lesson.  I told myself that for years I never had these tools and I was perfectly fine. I had become so reliant on the tool that it no longer was a tool...it was all about the device.  I pulled out a few old lesson plan books and note cards that I used in the past.  I reminded myself about the importance of Being Present.  Don't make it about the technology, make it about the individual!

Every now and then I have to remind myself to shut down.  When I walk into a classroom I may snap a few pictures and tweet out a cool moment, but I also connect with kids.  I don't want to be the adult that has his face in the device.

I say all this for a few reasons:  

First, why is the device out?  If you have a device out, I hope it has a purpose.  Are you posting on your class Facebook page?  Are you tweeting a cool picture that you just captured?  Are you fact checking information?  Are you updating assignments on Edmodo/Schoology?

Second, if your technology crashes should it be the end of the world?  For years most of us never had these tools.  We didn't have cell phones, iPads, tablets and more.  I get it, many lessons involve these tools, but I challenge you to remember the days before these tools.  I bet you did more than survive, I bet you had days that you flourished!  Keep those memories in your back pocket; they may benefit you in the future.

Finally, Be Present!  If you have a device out make sure you have a very specific purpose.  We must Be Present in front of our kids.  We are the role models and we need to set the example of shutting down and focusing on people, not devices.


NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Monday, October 20th:  String Team 3:45-4:30
Tuesday, October 21st:  TEAM Meeting 9am
Wednesday, October 22nd:  6:30pm 5th Grade Curriculum Night
Wednesday, October 22nd:  Mobile Dentist at Warner
Wednesday, October 22nd:  K-2 Assembly 8:45am
Wednesday, October 22nd:  String Team 3:45-4:30
Friday, October 24th: Staff Meeting 8am
Friday, October 24th:  5:30pm - 8:30pm Warner Fun Night

Articles Worth Reading:

Popularity Grows for Year Round Schooling @EdWeek

6 Keys to a Classroom Makeover @thomascmurray

The Science of Fear @edutopia

A veteran teacher turned coach shadows students... @grantwiggins

Start a Reading Revolution: Flip your class with blogs @edutopia

Empathy and Trust @TonySinanis

10 Reasons Why Non-Readers Don't Read - and how you can change their minds @scholastic

Connecting in your own building @Fearless_Teach

The Next Time You're Ready to Give Up On A Student @TeachThought

What if this was your districts grading policy? @justintarte

40 Things I want to tell my kids before they're too cool to listen @marcandangel

Professional Learning That School Leaders Need and Deserve @E_Sheninger


Videos Worth Watching:

He guessed what? (4 min)



She said what! (1 min)



Well done boys! (4 min)



How to learn from mistakes (10 min)



My Wish...great story! (7 min)






Sunday, October 12, 2014

I Choose To See Great Potential

Sometimes when you are really close to a situation you see every flaw.  As you analyze and critique the flaws you have the tendency to become discouraged or even pessimistic.


I have lived most of my life in Jackson County.  During this time I have witnessed a lot of memorable events.  

Truth be told I have not always enjoyed life in Jackson County.  As a high schooler I specifically remember being ready to get out of town.  It was during my time away that I began to appreciate Jackson.  During the last few years I have really come to enjoy many things that Jackson offers. Some of the events that I have enjoyed are:

- The Amazing Race Jackson, Michigan
- The Jackson Running Series
- The Jackson Rose Festival
- The Civil War Muster
- Cascade Falls
- Thought 1 Foundation Events
- Eve on the Ave
- Grand River Expedition
- Fitness Council Events
- Hot Air Jubilee
- Tough Mudder at MIS

This is just the tip of the iceberg, but the point is Jackson has some fun stuff going on...you just simply have to look!

I say all that because sometimes when people get close to something they don't look at the positives...they focus on the flaws. 

Last year I was asked to be a judge for The Outstanding Teen Jackson.  I was honored, and so I accepted. I had never been a judge before, but I thought my experience with young people would really help. The first part of the competition was Q & A.  The question focused on how they would celebrate Jackson.  As I listened to twenty girls share outstanding ideas I couldn't help but feel pride for our youth and Jackson County.  A few of the young ladies talked about how they feel doubted by adults and how some of their peers frown on Jackson County.  I could tell the stress and pressure to be everything to everyone was weighing on them.

I have heard several times in the past few years that the kids of today are not prepared for the real world.  I feel the urge to share a few reasons why I believe in our kids and our future.

My first story is from 5th grade camp.  Each year the Western 5th graders head north to Mystic Lake Campground in Northern Michigan.  Each year we take 25-30 High School students to be Counselors, Mentors and Role Models for our students.  This year I was really impressed with a few of our outstanding high school students.  
The first day at camp is always filled with nervous excitement.  As I headed out to take pictures and check on the groups I noticed one of our groups located at the giant swing.  As I approached I noticed Julia.  She was talking to the students in her group about cheering for each other and being brave.  I took a handful of pictures, but what I really noticed was Julia's warm nature and ability to be the consummate positive force.  Over the course of three days I was truly impressed with Julia.  I don't ever remember seeing her on her phone...every image of Julia was her supporting kids.

Next comes two counselors that really stepped up!  I met with Nora and Jacob about a week before we left for camp.  I told the two of them that I was going to lean on them during camp. Those two didn't blink!  They both looked me in the eye and said, "no problem."  At the time I thought, well we'll see, once things become difficult I'll need to step in.  To my surprise those two never needed me.  I checked in with them a few times and each time they were in control. As 5th grade camp began to wind down I sat down and began to organize pictures.  Going through the pictures allows for reflection.  It didn't take long to stumble across pictures of Jacob and Nora.

When I hear negative comments about our youth I sometimes struggle to respond.  Just last week I had an adult tell me that the kids of today will not be as successful as their parents.  She went on to tell me that they are too dependent on technology and they don't understand what responsibility truly is.  These conversations make me sad, but then I think of Julia, Jacob, Nora and so many others. I remind myself that we have amazing kids all around us.  I won't give up on our youth and I won't give up on our community.

The next time I have someone talking negatively about our youth or about our community I'm going to ask them if they have ever heard of the group, Most Teens Don't.  I'm going to shift the conversation.  I urge you to do the same.  Speak up for what you believe in...I believe in our kids, I believe we have a lot to look forward to in our community.

This week's big question(s):  Do you focus on the flaws?   How do you show your community pride?


NEXT WEEK AT A GLANCE:

Monday, October 13th:  Spirit Week: Crazy Socks
Monday, October 13th:  MAISA Writing Visit
Monday, October 13th:  String Team 3:45pm
Tuesday, October 14th:  Admin Meeting 9am
Tuesday, October 14th:  Spirit Week:  Pajama Day
Tuesday, October 14th:  7pm PTO Meeting
Wednesday, October 15th:  Grades 3-5 Assembly
Wednesday, October 15th:  Spirit Week:  Hat Day
Wednesday, October 15th:  String Team 3:45pm
Thursday, October 16th:  Spirit Week:  Crazy Hair Day
Friday, October 17th:  Spirit Week:  Western Wear! Go Panthers versus Mounties!
Sunday, October 19th:  Red Egg Farm Fundraiser...proceeds benefit Warner Elementary

Articles Worth Reading:

A Letter to My Daughter's Kindergarten Teacher @pernilleripp

A Veteran Teacher Turned Coach Discovers a Sobering Lesson... @grantwiggins

The Wonderful Comfort of a Blanket Book @strohreads

Reflecting on the #Bammys

Be The Hope @coolcatteacher

How to Burn Yourself Out @TeachThought

After being told their son died, parents get the shock of a lifetime...

11 Ways To Let Go and Feel Stress Free @marcandangel

Consumers Energy App helps teach Warner Students...


Videos Worth Watching:

#Hashtag Humor on Jimmy Fallon (3 min)



Ellen from the backseat... (3 min)



What Play Can Teach Us... (11 min)