Friday, February 7, 2014

Somebody to Lean On...

There are times in your life that you don't know how much you need someone until you do...

I remember it like it was yesterday.  Our team qualified for Nationals in West Palm Beach.  We were all thrilled by the opportunity.  Following the first day of competition we were 14th out of 24 teams. We were in real danger of missing the cut.  

Day two arrived and it was a day of redemption.  

My teammates and I had a goal, we were going to make the cut.  I had a personal goal, I was going to end my mini-funk and play to my potential.  I was paired with an All-American from Oklahoma and I wanted nothing more than to show I belonged.  Throughout the round I caught glimpses of teammates, coaches and parents.  I had a good idea that we were playing well. We had put ourselves in position to advance.  

Then I got to the 14th hole.  I was 5 over par.  I was grinding, struggling, but trying my best to hang-in there for my team.  My coach, Bill SanGiacomo, came up to me as I walked off the 14th green.  "How are you?"  he said.  I responded with a simple, 5 over.  He began chewing on his fingers.  

Four holes to go.  I played the 15th hole well, I knocked it on two putted for par.  Next came the long par three 16th.  I hit a decent shot but came up some 50 feet short of the pin.  My first putt was woefully short, but I dug in and poured in a 15 footer to save par.  Next came the 17th hole.  I hit a poor drive up the left side, followed by a shaky recovery that ended up in the sand trap.  As I approached the bunker I could tell my team needed me.  My coach was approaching from the next hole over, he was fidgety and anxious.  I dug in and blasted it out.  The ball landed like a butterfly and trickled into the cup!  I was pumped and now I was back to 4 over par. I had a jump in my step as I went to the 18th tee.  I ripped a drive down the middle and then stood in the fairway just a few feet from my coach.  The gallery behind the green looked enormous.  I had my favorite yardage for my wedge.  I took dead aim and stuck it within inches of the flag.  The crowd erupted behind the green!  My coach had tears in his eyes as he shook my hand. I tapped in for a solid round of 75.  After the round I was congratulated by my teammates, my parents were thrilled and my coach could only muster one word...gutsy.  

I should have been thrilled...but something was missing.  It was my future wife.  I remember getting back to the room and calling her, I shared the story and then I told her that I wished she could have been there.  That was the first time I truly understood how much I need her.

I believe we all have someone that we lean on.  It's different for all of us.  That person can make all the difference.  They are our unsung heroes. 

Having someone to lean on in moments of success and struggles matters.  I feel a strong sense of pride when I enter classrooms and teachers share success stories.  These stories lift me up.  I also take a lot of pride in trying to support teachers and staff through the challenging moments.  We've laughed, we've cried and through it we've become stronger.  

Many of the educators I know have behind the scenes support systems.  Being an educator requires lots of hours, extensive planning and communication.  Without someone to lean on many of us would crumble.  I know I would.

We've just passed half-way in our school year.  Parents are expecting our magic wands to fix all problems and we have to balance honesty with empathy.  This is a stressful balance that all educators face.  As you encounter these challenges I hope you have someone you can lean on.  

I feel fortunate to have a staff that puts their heart into everything.  With that being said, I also know that this is hard, sometimes we feel unappreciated or beaten down. We are all dedicated, loving and focused on kids, yet somedays doesn't it feel like we take two steps forward and three steps back?  That is when we need someone to lean on.

I'm grateful for many things.  I'm grateful for my PLN, my administrative team, my teachers and staff and most of all I'm grateful for my wife.  I wouldn't be the person I am today without a supportive team. My hope is simply this, don't try to be a lone ranger, find someone to lean on...we all need someone to lean on.

This Week's Big Question:  Do you have someone you can lean on?


Monday, February 10th:  PBL Meeting in the MS 2:40pm
Monday, February 10th:  3:45 1:1 Tech Meeting in the boardroom
Tuesday, February 11th:  Panther Pride
Tuesday, February 11th:  PTO meeting at 7pm
Wednesday, February 12th:  Assembly in the cafeteria Grades 3-5 from 8:45-9:20  Grades K-2 assembly from 9:25-9:40 (MIS visit...Emily Garrison)
Wednesday, February 12th:  TAT 3pm
Wednesday, February 12th:  Happy Bday to Shirley Campbell
Wednesday, February 12th:  Professional Development on Screencasting with +Stacey Schuh
Thursday, February 13th:  Valentine Parties in the PM
Friday, February 14th:  No School
Saturday, February 15th:  Happy Bday to Amber O'Rourke

Articles Worth Reading:

More humor w/your leadership, Please +Joe Mazza @Joe_Mazza

The More I Lecture, The Less I Know If They Understand @grantwiggins @TeachThought

The "C" Words of Education +Tom Whitby @tomwhitby

Fun Math practice @Splashmath for grades 1-5 +Erin Klein @KleinErin

3 Tips To Communicate More Effectively Via Social Media @TeachThought

Highest Result of Education is Tolerance +Terry Heick @TeachThought

Dean Shareski: What Ever Happened To Joy In Education? +Andy Losik +Dean Shareski @mrlosik

7 Stressful Things To Start Ignoring +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel

Top 10 Practices for Principals to Promote Literacy +Donalyn Miller

20 Things No One Tells You About Running @ShutUpRun

Training the Brain To Listen +Edutopia @edutopia

Educon: Game Changer +Tony Sinanis @TonySinanis

Videos Worth Watching:

This is terrific! Who do you lean on? Speak-Life student created video.  This is #PBL #GeniusHour (7 min)

Who do you lean on?  Touching Olympic Commercial (2 min)

Who do you lean on?  End of an Era with Jay Leno...this was really genuine. (6 min)


  1. I have had the privilege to see Jay twice. And Johnny once. BOTH genuine, caring people. AND funny. SOOO sad he is leaving. And Jimmy can never measure up-

    I lean on THEO now. When I was raising kids, it was school teacher friends. But now that it just to two of us..... we can be best friends again!

    1. Thanks for your honesty. I immediately think that our spouses should be our best friends, but sad to say that isn't always the case. I'm glad you and Theo have each other.

      As for Jimmy, he has gigantic shoes to fill. If I know him he'll do it his way. Time will tell how he measures up. His predecessors were people first individuals and that showed.

  2. What a wonderful post, Ben. To have the ability to identify your "person" and then be transparent enough to share it shows your strength. She is truly an incredible gift to you!

    1. Very kind of you Suzanne. I'm also truly blessed to have so many colleagues that I can "lean on" each and every day. : )