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For many years on election day, voters would come in to vote in my former school. Having students attend on election day posed a few logistical challenges, but we were able to keep things running smoothly for those community members doing their civic duty and also kept the students safe with some additional safety precautions. One of the reasons things ran so smoothly was the person in charge of the voting process. His name was Mr. Lane and he always came in a day early to map out the area that he knew so well. He checked with myself, the custodian, and secretary to make his game plan. He went over every detail to prepare. He’s the kind of guy that I want working on the plane that I fly in. He is sharp as a tack, quick on his feet, and has been running this program for a long time. I just didn’t know how long.

As I was talking with Mr. Lane about how long he had been at it, I found out that he was 87 years old! I couldn’t believe it. I asked what his secret was to remaining so youthful. He said staying busy keeps him from slowing down. He then proceeded to tell me that he was getting ready for an upcoming basketball tournament. He was proud to tell me that he was heading to a championship game in the “80+” category.  I didn’t even know there was an 80+ category, but I didn’t have a hard time imagining him giving it his all on the court! When I asked him how many voters we had, he said he would let me know. A couple of weeks after the election, I had completely forgotten about my question, but he hadn’t. He mailed a letter to the school giving me the numbers for the current election by precinct and also compared it with earlier years. He ended the letter by thanking all of us for making him feel at home each year and for being a “super” principal (noting the Superman gear in the office:).

School is a place of learning, and over the years, I have found that I have learned the most from people like Mr. Lane. People who lead by example with their zest for life, their pursuit of perfection, and most of all their positive attitude! To be honest, some days I don’t have that much energy when I leave school. I sometimes feel drained, spent, and for lack of a better word…old. When I think of Mr. Lane and the spring in his step, twinkle in his eye, and out there on the court playing with the 80+ basketball league, I don’t feel quite so old. And that zest for life he brings becomes contagious and spreads to me. We may not all be playing on a basketball league when we are in our eighties, but we can all share that same positive attitude and energy no matter what our age with our students and with the world!

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Postscript: Mr. Lane is now 90 years old and still going strong!! 

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“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” – Mark Twain

“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” – George Burns

A diplomat is a man that always remembers a woman’s birthday, but never remembers her age.” – Robert Frost

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Aaron Hogan                                Julie Mytych

Books worth Reading

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  • Monday, February 25: Students of the Month Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM, 504 Meeting (Pisko) 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, February 26: Achievement Team (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM, All Administrative Team meeting at Career Tech 3:00-4:30 PM
  • Wednesday, February 27: Parent Meeting (Kaufman/Wennstrom) 8:15 AM, Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Building PD 1:00 – 4:00 PM
  • Thursday, February 28: Staff Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Friday, March 1: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting

 

  • Monday, March 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Mindfulness) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 5: Achievement Team 8:15 AM, Robotics Assembly in the PM
  • Thursday, March 7: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Kindergarten Parent Orientation 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 8: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Records Day in the Afternoon 
  • Saturday, March 9: Pancake Breakfast in the Gym 9:00 – 12:00

BIG DATES

  • Monday, March 11 – Friday, March 15: Scholastic Book Fair
  • Tuesday, March 12: Grades entered by Midnight
  • Friday, March 15Report Cards go Home
  • Wednesday, March 20 & Thursday, March 21: Sky Dome in the East Commons
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books
  • Friday, March 29: Author Visit 9:30-10:30 AM
  • Monday, April 1 – Friday April 5Spring Break
  • Friday, April 12: Science Fair
  • Tuesday, May 7: Talent Show
  • Thursday, May 16: Art Fair (K-4) Music Concert (1-4) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 4: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Wednesday, June 12: Field Day

The Longest Month

Contrary to what the calendar says, February can be one of the longest months for educators. It’s a time of the year when staff and students are restless, patience runs short, temperatures are low and behaviors are high. Both as a teacher and as a principal, I used to ask myself “What am I doing wrong?” during this month. Now, I simply recognize this is what February is like each year. Even though I accept that February is a tough month, I still try to find some ways to stay positive. Here are some ideas to beat those winter blues!

Have a celebration: Find something to celebrate in your classroom or the school. Maybe it’s good behavior (it does still exist in February:), maybe it’s academic achievement, maybe it’s just growth that you’ve seen since the beginning of the year. It doesn’t have to be a big thing, but take time to celebrate those small successes!

Gratitude walk: Take some time to stroll through the building and share your gratitude to people. Maybe it’s a colleague that has supported you, a parent that has volunteered, or a student that always has a smile on their face. Research shows that when we practice gratitude, it actually improves our own state of well being. Talk about a win-win!!

Random Acts of Kindness: This is a fun one and also doesn’t have to be a big thing. Offer to watch a classroom so a colleague can go to the bathroom. Share a lesson or present an idea at a staff meeting. Clean snow off a car in the parking lot. Bring a coffee to a partner. It’s amazing how people try to “pay it forward” when someone does something nice for them.

I’m sure there are many more ways to avoid the doldrums of February. The key is consciously making an effort to keep things fun. So whether it’s eating a heart-shaped doughnut, reading an engaging book, or watching a favorite show, make sure you treat yourself to some positive experiences during “the longest month“!

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“In the depth of winter I finally learned that there was in me an invincible summer.” – Albert Camus

“No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn.” – Hal Borland

“The pine stays green in winter….wisdom in hardship.” – Norman Douglas

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Bobby Dodd                                     Tamara Letter

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  • Monday, February 18: No School for President’s Day!
  • Tuesday, February 19: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 20: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 21: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Lock Down Drill 3:30 PM

 

  • Monday, February 25: Students of the Month Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 26: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 27: Students Dismissed 12:10 PM / Building PD 1:00-4:00 PM
  • Thursday, February 28: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, March 1: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA board meeting

BIG DATES

  • Thursday, March 7: Kindergarten Parent Orientation 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 8: Students in AM/Records Day in the Afternoon
  • Tuesday, March 12: Grades entered by Midnight
  • Friday, March 15Report Cards go Home
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books
  • Monday, April 1 – Friday April 5Spring Break
  • Thursday, May 16: Art Fair (K-4) Music Concert (1-4) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 4: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Wednesday, June 12: Field Day

Mr. H.

Recently, I was watching an interview with the indomitable Jane Goodall. At 84 years old, she is still traveling the world and giving presentations on her groundbreaking work with chimpanzees and inspiring people with her positive message. I also learned during the interview that wherever she goes, she travels with a stuffed monkey called Mr. H. who has a story almost as inspiring as hers!

Many years ago, Jane received the stuffed animal from a man named Gary Haun. Gary was a US marine who lost his sight in a helicopter crash.  During his recovery, he met a magician and he decided he wanted to become a magician as well.  He was told by friends and family that this was not a realistic goal, but he persevered and learned his trade well. He is so skilled in his art, that he often performs shows and then reveals to his audience after the fact that he is blind. Not stopping at magic, Gary has pursued mountain climbing, skydiving, and even scuba diving. Inspired by his story, Jane takes her stuffed animal with her wherever she goes to remind herself and others of the unconquerable human spirit. After pointing out to Gary that the stuffed animal was a monkey and not an ape (apes don’t have tails), she named the animal Mr. H both for the man who gave it to her and for the word “hope“.

As an educator, I found this story to be fascinating on many levels. Jane Goodall didn’t just study apes, she lived with them and became part of their community. Great teachers don’t just teach their children, they create a community of learners of which they are a part. At age 84, Jane could easily rest on her laurels and take things easy. Instead she keeps up an exhausting schedule to continue spreading her positive message to all who will listen. Great teachers do the same. They tirelessly work with each new class, each new family, and each new student they receive and start each school year with a renewed sense of purpose. Finally, Jane ends each of her presentations not by focusing on her accomplishments, but on the inspirational story of Gary Haun and Mr. H. Similarly, great teachers know that it’s not about them, but about the students they work with and always make sure the focus is on them! I’m thankful for the message of hope that Jane Goodall spreads to her audiences and I’m also thankful for the message of hope that our teachers share with their students each and every day!

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“I like some animals more than some people, some people more than some animals.” – Jane Goodall

“Until one has loved an animal a part of one’s soul remains unawakened.” – Anatole France

“A black cat crossing your path signifies that the animal is going somewhere.” – Groucho Marx

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Krista Venza                                      Jon Treese

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  • Monday, February 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 12: Achievement Team (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 13: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00 PM, Founders Day Banquet at Schoolcraft 5:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 14: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Valentine’s Day Celebrations

 

  • Monday, February 18: No School for President’s Day
  • Tuesday, February 19: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, February 21: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Lock Down Drill 3:30 PM

 

  • Monday, February 25: Students of the Month Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 26: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 27: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM/Building PD in afternoon
  • Friday, March 1: Jon to Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting

A Simple Thank You

“Hi folks, Jon Wennstrom here! It’s time for another Saturday Shout Out! Each week I’m giving a shout out to an educator that has inspired me, challenged me, or helped me out along the way.” With these words, I start a short video each week to show my appreciation for an educator who helped shape who I am today. The first time I saw green screen technology, I had a vision of this project. It took me a year to get to the point where I could create and send out these short messages. The videos are 30-40 seconds in length and are a quick nod to my Edu-Heroes. For the past 22 weeks, I have sent out “Saturday Shout Outs” and I’ve been amazed at the responses I’ve received.

About a month into the project, I was approached by a PTA member who casually mentioned that she loved the weekly shout outs. I was surprised, because I didn’t know she had seen any. Several weeks later, I was at a district meeting and a secondary principal (who I didn’t even know was on social media) told me he thought the shout outs were great. Obviously people were enjoying the messages. Next, I was out for dinner and an educator came over to me and joked about when he was going to get a shout out. Again, this was someone that I didn’t even know had seen the videos. Most recently, I received a call from a friend and educator in New York who said this was something really special. I was shocked at the impact that had come from what started as a simple thank you message.

As educators, we often do little things that may never be noticed. Coming in early to set up the classroom for a special project, helping a child who needs their shoes tied, or simply covering a classroom, so a colleague can use the restroom. But guess what? Someone is ALWAYS watching. I recently read a blog post where a teacher said he always picks up items in the hallway, because he saw his principal do this (when no one was looking) and he remembered it still 20 years later. The rocks of kindness we through into the pond of life create ripples that reach farther than we could ever know. Little things do matter and can make a big impact…even a simple thank you!

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“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward

“I choose to be grateful. That gratitude allows me to be happy.” – Will Arnett

“Silent gratitude isn’t very much to anyone.” – Gertrude Stein

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Hamish Brewer                                 Tara Martin

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  • Monday, February 4: Students of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 5: Achievement Team Meeting (Trantham) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 6: PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 7: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50
  • Friday, February 8: VIP Dance 6:00-8:00 PM

 

  • Monday, February 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM, Computer Lab 2 Closed for the week for WIDA Testing (ELL)
  • Tuesday, February 12: Achievement Team Meeting (Kurtjian) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 13: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00 PM, Founder’s Day Banquet at Schoolcraft 5:30-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, February 14: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Valentine’s Day! 

 

  • Monday, February 18: No School for President’s Day!

BIG DATES

  • Wednesday, February 27: Students in AM/Building PD in the Afternoon
  • Thursday, March 7: Kindergarten Parent Orientation 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 8: Students in AM/Records Day in the Afternoon
  • Tuesday, March 12: Grades entered by Midnight
  • Friday, March 15Report Cards go Home
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books
  • Monday, April 1 – Friday April 5Spring Break
  • Thursday, May 16: Art Fair (K-4) Music Concert (1-4) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 4: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Wednesday, June 12: Field Day

Don’t Wait…Act Now!

It’s late at night. You can’t sleep. As you flip through the channels you see people enthusiastically sharing the latest and greatest product that you just can’t live without! From Ginsu Knives to George Foreman Grills to comfy Snuggies, you can find it all with the ubiquitous late night infomercial! Amazingly, the late night infomercial market generates billions (yes, billions with a B) of dollars each year. Now, as fun and quirky as many of these products are, it’s the salespeople that really make the magic happen. They shout, they sing, they dance, they make you feel that you can’t live without this product and time is running out to get it. “Don’t wait…Act now!” Don’t believe me that they’re effective? The late night infomercial market generates billions (yes with a B) of dollars each year. Infomercials are still around, because they work! The infectious enthusiasm of the presenters translates into sales for the company and influences the viewers (you and me) to buy things we didn’t even know we needed! It’s a true testament to the power of positive energy and enthusiasm.

As educators, we can learn a lot from infomercials. What if we took that same level of enthusiasm and positive energy and applied it to our lessons? What if made our content seem indispensable to our students? What if the atmosphere in our classrooms told our students “Don’t wait…Act now!”? The results could be amazing and our school could be a place of excitement and wonder for students.

The spokespeople on infomercials are usually a little over the top. They draw us in with their energy and then hook us with their message. Great teachers are the same way. They go above and beyond and are always looking for ways to energize their students and hook them with their lessons. We may not generate billions of dollars in the world of education, but we do generate enthusiasm and excitement and our product is successful students. So for all the educators in our school and beyond, “Don’t wait…Act now!”

Talk about Energy & Enthusiasm!! 

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3:00 PM: “That infomercial is ridiculous.

3:00 AM: “That infomercial is genius. I’ll take 12! 

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Shannon Miller                                   Brad Currie

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  • Monday, January 28: Student of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM, Reading Proficiency Reports, Math iReady Reports & IRIPs sent home
  • Tuesday, January 29: Achievement Team (Stromberg) 8:15 AM, Skate Night at Riverside Arena 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Wednesday, January 30: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, January 31: School Improvement Meeting 8:05 AM (All Welcome)

 

  • Monday, February 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Reflection) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 5: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 6: PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 7: CLT Session 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 8: VIP Dance 6:00-8:00 PM

BIG DATES

  • Wednesday, February 27: Students in AM/Building PD in the Afternoon
  • Thursday, March 7: Kindergarten Parent Orientation 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 8: Students in AM/Records Day in the Afternoon
  • Tuesday, March 12: Grades entered by Midnight
  • Friday, March 15: Report Cards go Home
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books
  • Monday, April 1 – Friday April 5: Spring Break
  • Thursday, May 16: Art Fair (K-4) Music Concert (1-4) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 4: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Wednesday, June 12: Field Day

The Biggest Loser

Last week, my youngest daughter came home from school devastated. She had auditioned for her first high school theater production and did not receive a part. While trying to comfort her, she told me that I didn’t understand because I always succeeded in everything I did and referred to some of the lead roles I had played in theater productions. While she was right about me being fortunate in some of my acting roles, she didn’t have a clue about how many times I have failed in my life. I started to question myself and wondered if I had only focused on the successes while talking with my daughters. If they really knew me, they would know that any success I’ve had is because of my MANY failures. Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Wrestling: This sport was my life in high school. My ultimate dream was to earn a medal at the state finals. When I went to the state finals my sophomore year, my goal seemed to be within reach. Even though I promptly lost my first two matches, I knew the next year, I could make it happen. My junior year ended in sickness (probably from extreme weight cutting) and being eliminated at the district level by someone that I had beaten several times during the year. My senior year saw a return to the state finals where I made it to the final eight. Medals were given to the top six. I was a two time state finalist who considered himself the biggest loser.

Coaching: When I started teaching, my district was in the process of starting up a wrestling team and asked if I would serve as the head coach. Creating a team from scratch was hard enough, but I was a first year teacher who worked at the elementary trying to recruit at the high school. Luckily, the football coaches befriended me and helped me out. Our first several years as a wrestling team was brutal. Our team was tough, but inexperienced. We had a lot of heart and very few wins. As far as I was concerned, we had the best team in the world, even though on paper, we may have looked like the biggest loser.

Career: After several years as a teacher and then elementary principal, I was offered the position of Chief Academic Officer at a small private college. Against the advice of people that I should have listened to, I left the public schools and took the position. It sounded prestigious, but in reality, the position was not for me.  In fact, I was terrible at it. I dreaded coming to work each day and was perpetually unhappy. Three years into the position, I had lunch with the president and he said something that I will never forget. “Jon, I just don’t think it’s working out.” I was stunned. As lousy as I was at my job and as unhappy as I was, I still couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that my contract was not being renewed. Ironically, this traumatic event led me back to K-12 education and back to the job that I loved best in the world…an elementary school principal. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to find out what my true calling is, but during the time that I was waking up to that call, I spent three years feeling like the biggest loser.

Marriage: This was a hard one to reflect on. I’ve always considered myself a “family first” person and to have failed at the relationships that matter most was devastating to me. For years, I felt embarrassment and shame at having a failed marriage. I also felt like a hypocrite for telling people to focus on their family first, when it was something that I clearly didn’t do.  However, I’ve come to learn many valuable lessons. I’ve learned that relationships can’t be neglected, that people can still parent together from separate homes, and that second chances do happen. Even if, you once believed you were the biggest loser.

PhD: Do you know what the letters ABD stand for? Someone who has participated in a doctorate program would tell you that it means “All but dissertation” and that they know many people who have this title. Well, I am one of them. At the time of my enrollment in the Educational Doctoral program, we were told that 50% of participants leave before they finish their coursework and of those that remain, half do not finish their dissertation. I fell into the second group. I completed my coursework, and took my comprehensive exams (comps), but failed to complete my dissertation. Life happened along the way and I became a well educated, biggest loser.

It’s funny how my daughter (and probably many others) only see the successes. In her mind, I simply wished for something to happen and made it so. Perhaps that is my fault. Maybe I didn’t spend enough time talking about learning from failure and how the glory is in the fight and not the outcome. Well, this post is to let my daughter know and those who I have been fortunate enough to connect with in my life, that at many times in my life I have been the biggest loser…and I’m a better person for it!

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“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: It is the courage to continue that counts.” – Winston Churchill

“Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.” – Henry Ford

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas Edison

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Tamara Letter                     Danny Steele

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  • Monday, January 21: No School in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Tuesday, January 22: Achievement Team (Hurula) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, January 23: Data Dives in the Morning (Rotating Subs), Jon to ABC Negotiations and ALT meeting in the afternoon
  • Thursday, January 24: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM

 

  • Monday, January 28: Student of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 29: Achievement Team 8:15 AM, PTA Skate Night 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Thursday, January 31: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM

BIG DATES

  • Wednesday, February 27: Students in AM/Building PD in the Afternoon
  • Thursday, March 7: Kindergarten Parent Orientation 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 8: Students in AM/Records Day in the Afternoon
  • Tuesday, March 12: Grades entered by Midnight
  • Friday, March 15: Report Cards go Home
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books
  • Monday, April 1 – Friday April 5: Spring Break
  • Thursday, May 16: Art Fair (K-4) Music Concert (1-4) 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, June 4: Kindergarten Round Up
  • Wednesday, June 12: Field Day

Excelsior!

Not long ago, the comic world lost one of its greatest artist, Stan Lee. Before his passing at the age of 95, Stan Lee had been the founder of Marvel Comics and created such characters as Spider-Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four, Black Panther and many more. In addition to his creative genius, Lee was noted for his robust sense of humor. Some of that can be seen in his more than 20 cameo appearances in the Marvel movies. During an interview spanning his groundbreaking career, Stan Lee stated that he never liked spending time on past accomplishments, but rather prefered to focus on upcoming projects and new opportunities (this was when he was in his 90’s). At some point during his career, Stan Lee started using the word “Excelsior!” as his tag line. The word originates from Latin and means “ever upward” and came to be a symbol of his quest for excellence.

Recently, I purchased a comic book that ended with a full page dedication to the memory of Stan Lee with the word “Excelsior!” Now, this would be expected in a publication from Marvel Comics that he helped found. However, the tribute was from DC Comics, the rival company. DC was paying tribute to someone who had made their comics better by raising the bar for everyone. Stan Lee had transcended the world of comics and had become an inspiration to artists and dreamers around the world and the embodiment of continuous progress.

As an educator, I want to follow the example set by Stan Lee. His creativity and originality led to the birth of some of the world’s most enduring comic heroes. I want to use my creativity and originality to make my school a fun and inspiring place for students and staff to grow in. His sense of humor helped put people at ease and made generations of people (even those that never met him in person) feel like they had a friend and mentor. I want to remind my team to laugh and to always take our job seriously, but never ourselves. Finally, his philosophy of continuous improvement is something that I want to model for my staff, encourage for my students, and live each day as an educator. Thank you, Stan Lee for so many great memories, but also for teaching us to always work on creating a better future. Excelsior!

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“I think I’ve never stopped feeling like a kid.” – Stan Lee

“Sooner or later, if man is ever to be worthy of his destiny, we must fill our hearts with tolerance.” – Stan Lee

“The pleasure of reading a story and wondering what will come next for the hero is a pleasure that has lasted for centuries and, I think, will always be with us.” – Stan Lee

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Betty Rosen-Leacher                                 Emily Sickler

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  • Monday, January 14: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 15: Achievement Team (Ringler) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, January 16: PTA Board Meeting 2:35 PM
  • Thursday, January 17: Building PD (Burke/Jones) 7:50-8:50 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Friday, January 18: F&P/ELB Data in Illuminate, Building Visit by Marjorie Moore 11:00-1:00 PM (lunch provided in the lounge)

 

  • Monday, January 21: No School for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Tuesday, January 22: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, January 23: Data Dive Meetings 9:00 – 12:00 AM (Rotating Subs), Jon to ABC Negotiations 1:00 PM
  • Thursday, January 24: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM

 

  • Monday, January 28: Students of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 29: PTA Skate Night at Riverside Arena 6:00-8:00 PM

 

One Word: LIGHT

For the past five years, I have chosen “one word” to serve as my focus for the year. When selecting my word, I usually think about what I want to focus on, listen to what words others are using, and then settle on my word. This year, our family was chosen to light the advent candles for our church. As we stood lighting the candles during the readings, I knew then, my one word for 2019 would be Light. Specifically, three aspect of light would be my focus.

Seek the Light: Recently, my pastor shared a story of a time when she was in northern Scotland. She had decided to ride her bicycle into the countryside to a place that was noted as a prime spot to view the northern lights. As the ride continued, the sky grew darker until soon she was completely lost in the darkness. She stopped peddling and knew she needed to make a decision. Should she turn around and head back to the safety of the village or continue on in the dark? After a brief pause, she decided to continue on. A short distance later, the path turned a corner and she beheld the beautiful sight of the shimmering aurora borealis and had an experience that would remain with her for a lifetime. Sometimes, we need to go through the darkness in order to find the light we are seeking. This year, I will remember that when times are dark and situations are bleak, light and beauty may be right around the corner.

Be the Light: We all have had people in our lives who are filled with light. They inspire, they encourage, and they show the way with the light they give. That’s the person I want to be! I want light to shine through my social media posts, I want light to shine through my interactions with others, and I want light to shine through everything I do. Once we find the light we seek, we need to become the light to shine brightly for those around us. Being dark and negative is easy…it takes work and courage to be light.

Share the Light: There is a saying that lighting someone else’s candle does not dim our own light. I believe that is true and I have found that every positive thought I’ve shared, every kind word I’ve spoken, and every kind act I’ve done has always come back to me many times over. My goal as an educator is not to show people the way, but to help them find their own way. That’s what sharing the light means to me.

When I seek out my one word for the year, I always try to find something that rings true to me. For me, truth is speaking or hearing something that we already know in our heart. The word “light” rang true for me and will help guide me through 2019. What will your one word be this year? 

My “One Word” list for the past five years

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“Those who are unaware they are walking in darkness will never seek the light.” – Bruce Lee

“Give light, and the darkness will disappear of itself.” – Desiderius Erasmus

“Faith is the bird that feel the light when the dawn is still dark.” – Rabindranath Tagore

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Jeff Zoul                                      Sheila Alles

Books worth Reading

Both of these books on Teacher Self-Care by Dan Tricarico are available in my office for Teachers to borrow!

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  • Monday, January 7: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 8: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, January 10: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM

 

  • Monday, January 14: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 15: Achievement Team 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, January 17: Building PD 7:50-8:50 AM (Literacy/Vocabulary)
  • Friday, January 18: F&P & ELB Data entered into Illuminate (K/1 All students, 2-4 students below grade level)

 

  • Monday, January 21: No School for MLK Jr. Day

Leadership Lessons from Rocky Balboa

I grew up with the Rocky movies. Each time I watched one of the movies, I left the theater inspired to start working out and even got boxing gloves one Christmas so my friends and I could reenact our favorite boxing rounds. Recently, I watched the new CREED movies with my daughters and saw the character of Rocky through a new lens and came away with some leadership lessons for educators.

Go The Distance: People often forget that Rocky didn’t win the fight in his first movie. As an unknown underdog facing the heavyweight champion of the world, he wanted to do what nobody had done before…go the distance. No boxer had ever gone fifteen rounds with Apollo Creed and Rocky’s determination and heart made him the first to do so.  In every way that mattered, Rocky “won” the fight, even though he didn’t win the title. As educators, it’s not about winning awards or having a fancy title. It’s about showing up every day, staying focused when times are tough, and going the distance for our students!

Just Love ‘Em: Other than his wife Adrian, who provides him with love, support, and wisdom, the rest of Rocky’s relationships are more complicated. His best friend, Paulie, is obnoxious, lazy, and even abusive at times. Yet, Rocky loves him, forgives him, and even inspires him by his example to improve his own life. His trainer and mentor, Mickey, originally discarded him and told him he was a “waste of life”. Again, through forgiveness and patience, Rocky formed a life-long bond with his trainer and gained a father figure. Finally, his best friend, Apollo Creed, was once his mortal enemy. From competitors (Rocky I & II) to allies (Rocky III) to steadfast friends (Rocky IV), their relationship evolved as they learned and grew. Rocky is a great example for how we should treat difficult people in our lives…just love ’em. It’s not always easy, but he shows that letting go of anger, embracing forgiveness, and always assuming best intentions makes our path easier and may turn a competitor and even an enemy into a partner and friend.

Have A Soundtrack: Let’s face it. If you have seen the Rocky movies, it’s almost impossible to think of the character without humming the iconic soundtrack.  The combination of music and seeing Rocky train for his big fights is what pumps up the audience and makes us all believe (at least for while) that we can conquer whatever challenges lie before us. When I walk into school each day, I don’t want to drag myself in like I’m tired and exhausted (even if I am). I want to come in like I’m walking in with my own theme song. The next time you walk into school or your classroom, do it like you have your own theme song that announces “I’m here and ready to go the distance!“.

It’s All Heart: Perhaps the biggest similarity that educators share with Rocky Balboa is heart! Rocky is all heart and always gives it everything he’s got.  That’s how he is able to go the distance and beat his opponents….he keeps going when everyone else quits. As educators, we train to be our very best, we dedicate countless hours to find ways to help our students, and most importantly we never give up on them! It takes a lot of heart to be a champion like Rocky, it takes even more heart to be a champion for kids!

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“Every champion was once a contender who refused to give up.” – Robert “Rocky” Balboa

“Stay in school and use your brain….Sports make you grunt and smell. Be a thinker, not a stinker.” – Apollo Creed

“If I could just unzip myself and step out and be someone else, I’d wanna be you.” – Paulie Pennino

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Jeff Kubiak                               Jennifer Lee Quattrucci

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BIG DATES

  • Monday, January 7: School Resumes
  • Friday, January 18: F&P/ELB data put in Illuminate (K&1-all students, 2-4 Students below grade level)
  • Monday, January 21: No School for Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • Thursday, January 24: Data Dives to create IRIPs & Intervention Groupings, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM

 

Traditions

Once a month, the Compelled Tribe of Ed Bloggers has a common theme. This month happens to be traditions as we are preparing for the holiday season. I thought long and hard on this one, because I realized that I don’t have as many family traditions as I wish I had.  As a child, I longed for a Thanksgiving and Christmas scene like I thought every child had. The image in my mind for the holidays looked like something from a Norman Rockwell picture.  With a dad who was often in the hospital for kidney disease and a mother who worked swing shifts at the hospital as a nurse many holidays, our family traditions often fell short from my ideal.  When I grew up, I was bound and determined to make that Norman Rockwell image a reality with my own family. However, a divorce and split custody of my children shattered that dream as well.  For many years, I lamented the fact that I would never have a normal holiday with my family. Later I realized, there is no such thing as a normal holiday and that the Norman Rockwell picture was just that…a picture of what people wished for.

I bring this up because many of our students may feel that their home situations are “different” and that no one else could understand their situation.  That’s where we step in as educators. Part of our job is to help create school traditions and routines that create a safe, secure, and fun environment for our students, especially during the holiday seasons.  More importantly, we need to help them realize that their family traditions or customs are okay and that there is not a perfect or correct way to celebrate the holidays. The older I get, the more I realize that I did have fun holiday traditions with my family.  We always ate a meal together (even if it wasn’t on the holiday) and we often watched a movie (usually Ben-Hur for Christmas). When I see old movies playing during the holidays, I often think of my dad and realize we had fun traditions after all.  Most importantly, I always felt loved and safe at home.  That’s a tradition that I have passed along to my children (even with juggling holiday schedules between two households).  So, I guess the most important tradition of all…being together and being happy as a family is a legacy that has been passed on from one generation to another.

As educators, our students may have many traditions or no traditions at all.  But we can help make traditions and memories here and we can certainly make sure they feel safe and loved while at school. The hugs you give, the smiles you share, and the words of encouragement you express may be the one thing they hold on to during their holiday season.  Let’s make sure that with all the traditions we have at school that kindness, patience, and empathy are woven into each of them and demonstrated to all students.

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“Traditions are our roots and a profile of who we are as individuals and who we are as a family.” – Lidia Bastianich

“I prefer to choose which traditions to keep and which to let go.” – Theodore Bikel

“Ritual is important to us as human beings. It ties us to our traditions and our histories.” – Miller Williams

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Eric Sheninger                           Vicki Wilson

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  • Monday, December 17: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM, AT Meeting (Jones) 2:35 PM, PTA Luncheon in the lounge
  • Tuesday, December 18: IEP (Tanner) 8:15 AM, Achievement Team (Stromberg) at 2:35 PM
  • Wednesday, December 19: Pizza Party with the Principal 12:10-1:00 PM in East Commons (Top Sellers from each classroom)
  • Thursday, December 20: Staff Breakfast 8:00 AM in the LMC
  • Friday, December 21: iReady Window 2 Closes, Carols in the gym 3:15 PM, Staff Celebration after school at B. L.

 

  • Monday, January 7: School Resumes