Saturday, August 30, 2014

Excited with Anticipation!

Exactly 80 days ago we waived goodbye to our students.  For many of us the summer was filled with re-connecting with family, re-charging our own batteries and getting re-committed for an exciting new year!  In just three days we get to welcome our students back and do what we do best, make a difference in kids lives.

Every Summer something occurs that leaves me in awe of our staff.  

My first year at Warner I attended a PLC Summit in Lincolnshire, Illinois.  I spent days connecting and learning from/with Warner teachers.  We went to dinner together, we talked about family and we discussed education (we even scrunched into a cab together... boy that was tight quarters).  As a professional it was the first time I had ever attended a multi-day conference with so many team members.

My second year I remember teachers spending hour after hour in curriculum camp.  Teachers developed calendars, activities, assessments and strategies.  It was once again an eye-opening event to watch the dedication of our team!

Summer number three was a critical time.  Teacher evaluations had taken place and it was vital to take the time during the summer to meet with staff and let them know I care about them. That summer I had several heart felt conversations.  The efforts made that summer by our staff helped build our culture to new levels.

My fourth summer literally blew my mind...we had committed to creating inviting spaces at Warner Elementary.  The plan was to paint the restrooms (beginning our Leader in Me journey).  By the end of the summer the restrooms, the entryways and most classrooms were painted.  That summer I remember walking past teachers and staff and listening to the conversations.  That summer I was so impressed with what I watched.  The building transformed!  The surface looked beautiful, but the connections and relationships are what grew the most.

This summer I fully expected most staff members to getaway and recharge.  Last year's changes simply zapped us.  I knew people needed time.  But then it began to happen.  One by one I began seeing staff come in to the building.  Some came in to get their hands on the new math curriculum.  Others came in to paint and still others came in to redesign their classrooms.  I walked the halls and talked to many staff.  In those conversations you could hear could hear the excitement, the passion and the anticipation in their voices.

Last Thursday was our Back 2 School Night and I can say, in my five years at Warner I have never been to a better Open House!  Families came in droves and the positive energy was simply amazing.

I can't tell you how often I hear people share negatives about public education.  I hear people talk about testing and funding.  I hear people talk about educators leaving the profession.  Most of all I hear people talk about the stresses of teaching.  I may be naive, but I believe Warner is simply different.  Our focus is on relationships.  We have endured challenges and the beauty of it is that we went through the challenges together.  You find out a lot about people in times of crisis.

Everyday we continue to build our culture, we take risks, we put relationships first and we pride ourselves in strong communication.

In three short days our kids come back.  I know this will be a great year!  I know this because I know our staff.  I know we can handle adversity, we can handle challenges, we can handle bumps in the road...because we love kids!  I can't wait to walk side-by-side with all of you.


Tuesday, Sept. 2nd:  Make Sure SafeSchools Online Training is complete
Tuesday, Sept. 2nd:  Boo-Hoo Breakfast for parents (in cafeteria from 8:30-9:30am)
Tuesday, Sept. 2nd:  First day of school! 8:30am arrival and 3:35pm dismissal.  If you can assist with bussing and dismissals that would be wonderful.

Wednesday, Sept. 3rd:  No assembly (early release begins on the 10th)
Friday, Sept. 5th:  Happy B-Day to Jenny Shearer

*  A few reminders
- discuss fire drill, tornado drill and lockdown procedures with your students
- please do not leave doors leading outside propped open, if you need a key please see me
- please be patient with lunch (remember we have a brand new Kitchen Assistant and she doesn't know the kids yet
- the bus situation is always a test at the beginning of the year, please prepare your students early for dismissal
- remember patience...your technology may not be where you want it for day one...but we will get there!

*  I will be posting the lounge schedule on Monday, Sept. 1st


Why Have a Classroom Site +Beth Still @BethStill

Finding Our Element +Dennis Schug @DJrSchug

The Issue With Comfort Zones +Joe Sanfelippo @joesanfelippofc

The Power of Branding +Tony Sinanis +Joe Sanfelippo @TonySinanis

Change Your Mindset... +Angela Watson @Angela_Watson

The Obsolete Tech Director +Tom Murray @thomascmurray

What if... +Geniene Delahunty @GenieneD

20 Things Life is Too Short Not to Appreciate +Marc Chernoff @marcandangel


Every Kid Needs a Champion! Must see for ALL EDUCATORS.  (7 min)

If you watched this each morning it would be tough to ever have a bad day.  (10 min) Music starts at 4 min mark.

The Tale of Two Brains... (13 min)

Morgan Freeman on the Tonight Show.  Great stuff! (3 min)


  1. What a great post. I can't wait to see what's doing to happen at Warner this year!! Love that is all about relationships.

  2. Ben I am certain you are going to have an amazing year. I know this because of the time and energy you put into building relationships. They are clearly what matter most to you and that is why your staff has the passion that they do. It was interesting to read about the different events each summer that bonded your staff. Summer is such an important time to rest, but it is also a time to recharge and connect. I wish you and your fellow Panthers a great start to am awesome year!

  3. Ben, I loved reading this! It reminds me of how import culture-building is for us, as leaders. And to wrap it around the team's collective priority, children, is how we all keep our focus on what (who) it's all about...our students. I always enjoy seeing the amazing things happening at Warner, and respect and admire your passionate leadership, Ben. Have an outstanding Septmeber!

    - Dennis

  4. Warner IS different. I've only been involved with one other elementary school, the one I attended, but I can just tell that Warner is different. There is an amazing atmosphere at the school and it starts with the Leadership. The kids are amazing and they can tell that the people in charge are there looking out for them. From the Principal to the Office Staff, Teachers, Kitchen Staff, Janitorial and the Parents, Warner is simply amazing. I'm very fortunate to be a very small part of it, and my kids are fortunate to attend. Here's to yet another amazing year at Warner!