Sunday, August 23, 2015

A Simple Gift

People don't care how much you know
until they know how much you care!
- John Maxwell

Years ago I was experiencing a pretty typical day.  I arrived early to work, set up a few activities in the classroom, double checked my calendar and answered a few emails.  Then I decided to check my mail in the office.  As I strolled down the hallway I passed a few colleagues that were busy in their rooms.  We smiled at each other and kept on moving.  I finally arrived at the office and grabbed my stack of mail.  I briefly chatted with our office staff and then headed back to my classroom.

That's where things changed.

As I flipped through the mail I came to a hand-written envelope with my name on it.

I opened the envelope and found a letter inside.  I dropped everything I was doing and read the letter from a colleague.  It was quite possibly the nicest letter I had ever received.  The person thanked me for supporting her and lifted me up with the message.  The letter talked about specific things I had done to make a difference in her life.  Some of the things I didn't know I did, were things others cherished.  She told me that she appreciated my energy and she is always inspired when she looks in my room and sees me crouched down at a student's desk.  When you hear specific, positive comments you can't help but feel a warmth inside you.

My day was off to a shining start.  Truth is, nothing was going to ruin that day.

I saved that letter and chose to pay it forward to others around me.  I wanted to lift people up the same way my friend lifted me up.

For me, it started with my kids.  Each week I wrote anywhere from three to six notes to my students. I highlighted one specific moment that I was proud of.  Often times those moments of pride had nothing to do with grades.  I intentionally encouraged them to try new things.  A few months ago I bumped into a parent of a former student.  To my surprise she told me that her daughter still has every positive note I ever wrote her.  I smiled.  Then she turned to me and said something I won't forget, "The hand-written note is a lost art."

After transitioning from teacher to principal it was important to get to know people so that the cards and notes meant something.  Each time I sit down to write a note it takes time.  The words come from the heart...not the head.  Just last year I walked into a classroom and noticed a couple note cards pinned to a board by the teachers desk.  I recognized those cards.  It was another reminder that culture starts with caring.

Years ago my heart was filled because a friend took the time to care; took the time to connect; took the time to write me a personal note.  

Culture is always about the people.  I encourage you to pay it forward.  I bet you'll find that it fills your heart as well.


Monday, August 31st:  New Teacher Orientation (New Teacher's Only)
Tuesday, September 1st:  7:30am District Breakfast 
Tuesday, September 1st:  8:30am District Kickoff
Tuesday, September 1st:  12:30pm Safety PD at Bean Elementary
Wednesday, September 2nd:  8:00am Breakfast at Warner
Wednesday, September 2nd:  8:30am Building wide PD
Wednesday, September 2nd:  12:00 Warner Luncheon provided by PTO
Wednesday, September 2nd:  Warner Open-House 5pm-7pm (Y5/KDG 5-6pm, 1st-5th 5-7pm)
Tuesday, September 8th:  First Day of School!

Articles Worth Reading:

Genuine Connections by @Jonharper70bd

The Future Before Us by @Jeff_Zoul

Anxiety Doesn't Bleed by @JimDetwiler1

The Little Things by @TechNinjaTodd

@curriculumblog & @mattwachel

Videos Worth Watching:

Powerful Tribute!  The passing of a legend... (8 min) @TODAYshow

Life Lessons... This is brilliant! (4 min) @TEDtalks

The greatest speech a coach could ever give! (2 min)

If you love dogs, you will love this.  Bat Dogs! (14 min) @E60

Sunday, August 9, 2015

From the Ground Up

"A dream doesn't become reality through magic;
It takes sweat,
determination and hard work."
- Colin Powell

From an early age I was taught the importance of effort and attitude.  As I listened to stories from my dad and grandfather.  The message was simple, "Don't be outworked!"  I dedicated myself at a young age to being the hardest worker I could be.  Even at practice I never wanted to lose.  

My first job was as a caddy at the Country Club of Jackson.  As a caddy I learned several valuable lessons, most importantly, learning when to speak and when to simply be quiet.  This was something I needed to experience.

After two years of caddying I was asked by the head pro to work in the bagroom.  This was a BIG DEAL!  I accepted without hesitation.  What happened next was really tough.  For the next two years the majority of hours I received were being in charge of picking the range.  This was the lowest of lows.  Everyone despised picking the range and that was my spot.

I hung in there and after several years I moved up the bagroom ranks.  I was getting great experience and really improving my skills with people. 

Each summer I returned home from college and went to work at the country club. I had worked my way up to head of the bagroom, and then to my surprise, my boss began giving me pro shop hours. After a year of splitting time between the pro shop and bagroom I was then moved up to pro shop attendant.  I could see myself progressing, but I also understood that I had one year left in college and my dream was to teach kids.  It wasn't easy to say goodbye.  But I learned one of the most valuable lessons of my life.  There is no substitute for hard work and a positive attitude.

I felt compelled to share this story after reading the autobiography by George Bodenheimer, Every Town is a Sports Town.  In this story George shares a memory about the time he received an offer to work for ESPN, making only $8000 a year. George and his dad went to a local pub to discuss his first job offer.  His dad asked him a simple question, "Are you making a money decision or a career decision?

This really hit home and inspired this post.  How do we teach our kids, our students, the value of hard work, determination and a positive attitude?  The sense of entitlement that I see and hear often leaves me scratching my head.  Rarely do you hear the "George" stories anymore- those stories of people starting at the bottom and working their way up.   

Is there a way to get back to the days when the expectation was to start at the bottom and work your way up?

This Week's Big Questions: How can we teach our kids the value of sticking to something and learning through experiences?

How will you create an atmosphere that pushes kids to think and work, but also allows for risk taking, creativity and imagination?

Upcoming Events:

Wednesday, August 12th:  EdTech Kickoff at Western High School
Thursday, August 20th:  Admin Retreat
Friday, August 21st:  Admin Retreat
Friday, August 21st:  Staff Kick-Off 6pm at the Gilpin's
Friday, August 28th:  Class Lists posted
Monday, August 31st:  New Teacher Orientation
Tuesday, September 1st:  Staff PD Back-2-School meetings
Wednesday, September 2nd:  Staff PD Back-2-School meetings
Wednesday, September 2nd:  Back-2-School Night 5pm - 7pm
Tuesday, September 8th:  First Day of School

Articles Worth Reading:

Head Held High @TechNinjaTodd

Videos Worth Watching:

Ricochet surfs with kids!  Powerful story (8 min)

Life is meant to be epic! (3 min) @SpencerIdeas

Epic or Fail with @TheEllenShow (4 min)

Every Kid Needs a Champion, with Rita!  Best way to start the school year... (7 min)