Letters from Kimanzi

Several years ago, I was listening to the radio station as I was driving around for some last minute Christmas shopping. The radio host was asking for listeners to sponsor a child through Compassion International. I remember the host saying that if people weren’t sponsoring a child they really needed to do so and that if they were sponsoring a child that they should sponsor a second child. I was thinking how bold that was to ask people who were already giving to give more. I then realized that I was judging someone for asking “too much” when I wasn’t giving anything at all. I thought about the presents that I was buying and also that the night before I had taken my daughters out for dinner for the same price that it cost to sponsor a child for a month. I was embarrassed of myself.

That evening I went on the computer and signed up to sponsor a child. I purposely chose an older child, because I knew they were less likely to be sponsored. After watching a video about the sponsorship program, I was a little teary-eyed and feeling more guilty than ever for not doing this sooner. I sponsored a child named Kimanzi from a rural village in Kenya. The next month, we received a hand written letter from him and it made a big impact on my daughters to receive a message from him. It prompted them to write one back and ask a lot of questions. We receive two or three letters from Kimanzi each year and it’s been moving to watch him as he grows.

The letters from Kimanzi have been a powerful learning tool for our family. They have helped us keep our “problems” in perspective. They have helped us count our blessings. They have shown us that everyone can help in some small way. I often wonder if Kimanzi has any idea how much he has taught his American family. As we enter a busy and sometimes stressful time of the year, I will keep in mind the lessons I have learned from Kimanzi’s letters and remember to count my many blessings!

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“The hardest arithmetic to master is that which enables us to count our blessings.” – Eric Hoffer

“When I started counting my blessings, my whole life turned around.” – Willie Nelson

“Good health and good sense are two of life’s greatest blessings.” – Publilius Syrus

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Ines Bieler                                       Jeff Zoul

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  • Monday, March 25: Students of the Month Assembly! 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 26: ALT (all principals) to Central Office 8:00-11:30 AM, Achievement Team (Adams) 8:15 AM, Parent Meeting (Kaufman) 10:35 AM, Robotics Assembly in afternoon
  • Thursday, March 28: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (Led by Kurtjian & Duff)
  • Friday, March 29: Author Assembly 9:30-10:30 AM

SPRING BREAK

  • Monday, April 8: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, April 9: REED (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, ESY Meeting (Kurtjian) 9:50 AM
  • Wednesday, April 10: Spring Pictures in the East Commons
  • Thursday, April 11: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, April 12: Science Fair in the afternoon (for participating students)

Be the Teacher you Wanted

DETROIT ROCK CITY!! These were the words that started the concert that I went to this week. At my age, there aren’t many things that can entice me to stay out past midnight on a school night, but the KISS: End of the Road Tour was one of them. In true fan fashion, I painted my face, wore my concert shirt, and jammed out to KISS tunes as I drove into Detroit. The band didn’t disappoint and I’m not exaggerating when I say it was not just a concert, but an experience.  I even had the good fortune to run into some of my teachers at the show. It was a great night and completely worth the loss of sleep and extra coffee required in the morning.

In between songs, Paul Stanley, the energetic front man took the microphone and shouted to the crowd that they were still rocking it out after 40 years, because they were doing what they loved. If someone ever questions how some bands have such longevity, the answer to their question was right there. He then said something that really stuck with me. He said when they created KISS, they wanted to be the band that they had always wished for. One that played great music, put on an incredible show, and most of all listened to the fans. Many times he stated that they were still here because of the fans and even credited their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame to fan activism in spite of protests from some music critics.

As educators, we need to strive to be the person we needed in school. If you are a teacher, be the teacher you wanted as a student. If you are a principal, be the principal you wanted as a teacher. If you are a superintendent, be the superintendent you wanted as a principal. We have the opportunity each day to make a difference in the lives of our students. When you look around, if you don’t see what you needed in school, be like the members of KISS and create the reality you once wished for!

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“There are two great days in a person’s life – The day we are born and the day we discover why.” – William Barclay

“The difference between something good and something great is attention to detail.” – Charles R. Swindoll

“There is no genius without some touch of madness.” – Aristotle

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Jason Gribble                                 Harmonee McCrea

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  • Monday, March 18: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 19: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, Tornado Drill 10:00 AM, Grades due in by midnight
  • Wednesday, March 20: Sky Dome Assemblies in East Commons, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:30 PM, Wedding Shower 4:00 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 21: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Sky Dome Assemblies in East Commons, Admin M-Step Training at C.O. 12:30 PM
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of Books (Lunch in Rooms), Report Cards go home

 

  • Monday, March 25: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 26: Achievement Team (Adams) 8:15 AM, Robotics Assemblies in PM
  • Thursday, March 28: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, March 29: Author Visit 9:30-10:30 AM

SPRING BREAK!!!

72 Degrees & Clear Skies

Several years ago, my friend and mentor, Syndee Malek, shared with me the phrase “72 degrees and sunny skies“. The concept was that a principal’s attitude effects the climate of the entire school and therefore must be consistent and calm. The crazier things become, the more relaxed the principal must be. For years, I used the phrase with my staff and during presentations to ed leaders, reminding people to always be in the eye of the storm and I prided myself on remaining 72 degrees and sunny skies.

However, at a recent session with new and aspiring administrators, one of the participants asked a question that stopped me in my tracks. She asked, “What about when your skies aren’t so sunny?“. I had just shared with the group about the importance of being honest and real with staff and she correctly pointed out that everyone (including principals) go through rough times and are not always feeling “sunny”. After reflecting for a moment, I shared with the class that I had been mistaken. While a principal always needs to be 72 degrees (not running hot or cold), they don’t always have to have sunny skies. Things aren’t always sunshine and rainbows. Instead, I said that principals need to be 72 degrees and CLEAR skies. For me, that means being honest about how we are doing, sharing our vulnerabilities, but always trying to see through the clouds for that clear sky (even if it’s not always sunny).

Educators are only human, but that can be a source of great strength. We are stronger when we support one another, are honest with one another, and realize that life has its ups and downs. As a principal, I still like to spread the sunshine whenever I can, but my focus will always be on consistency and honestly. For me, that means being 72 degrees and CLEAR skies, no matter what the weather of the day may be!

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With my friend, Syndee Malek at MEMSPA Headquarters!

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“Always be yourself, express yourself, have faith in yourself” – Bruce Lee

“You just have to be yourself and go with full confidence and be courageous.” – Gabby Douglass

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” – Ralph Waldo Emmerson

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Syndee Malek                                    Daniel Bauer

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  • Monday, March 11: IEP (Tanner) 8:20 AM, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Book Fair Begins, Jon to AdvancED Meeting at 2:30 PM
  • Tuesday, March 12: Achievement Team (Jones) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, March 14: CLT 7:50-8:50 AM

 

  • Monday, March 18: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 19: Achievement Team 8:15 AM, Tornado Drill 10:00 AM, Grades due by midnight
  • Wednesday, March 20: Sky Dome Assemblies in East Commons, Jon to Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, Bridal Showers 4:00 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Thursday, March 21: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Sky Dome Assemblies in East Commons, Jon to M-Step Training 12:30 PM
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books, Report Cards go home

 

  • Monday, March 25: Students of the Month assembly (Mindfulness) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 26: Achievement Team 8:15 AM, Robotics Assemblies in the PM
  • Thursday, March 28: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
  • Friday, March 29: Author Visit (Allyson Apsey) 9:30-10:30 AM

SPRING BREAK!!

Live Music

Those who know me, know that I love music. I love listening to music, playing music, and most of all enjoying music performed live.  In high school and in college, I went to more concerts than I can count. Later, my venue of live music broadened from Rock Concerts to include Folk, Jazz, and even Opera. I just love live music. Anyone who has listened to a favorite recording time and again and then experienced the musician live, knows that the sound is quite different. I remember my first concerts in high school thinking, this doesn’t sound much like the album and “They sang that song much differently“. It was an acquired taste, but I eventually came to love the live sound more than the “perfection” of studio recordings. Then I discovered the recordings of live performances like Eric Clapton’s “24 Nights” and Johnny Cash’s “Live at Folsom Prison“.  You could hear the energy and the spontaneity. They captured all that’s best in a live performance.

I think one of the things I like about live music is the fact that anything can happen. There is an intimacy with seeing the artist perform their work and knowing that each show is unique. They may change up their roster, they may do something original, and they can even mess up. I remember reading an article about Bruce Springsteen forgetting his lyrics at a concert and the crowd singing the song to get him back on track. Even “The Boss” makes mistakes! But I bet it’s something that crowd will be talking about for years with fond memories. Live music isn’t about perfection, it’s about being in the moment and playing your heart out with every last bit of energy.

As educators, we perform live every school day to a group students. We present at assemblies, we teach lessons in the classroom, and we facilitate discussions among our students. Like music artists, we don’t strive for perfection, but rather live in the moment and change direction as we see fit for the needs of our students. We also “play our hearts out” and give everything we have to make each day a unique learning experience for our students. Yes, I love my favorite records of The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, and so many others, but I’ll take a live performance any day. It’s not about getting the music right, it’s about getting right with the music!

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Some of the amazing artists I’ve had the chance to see!

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“Where words fail, music speaks.” – Hans Christian Andersen

“Music in the soul can be heard by the universe.” – Lao Tzu

“Music is a higher revelation than all wisdom and philosophy.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

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Becky Biedermann                              Cyndi Nickel

Books worth Reading

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Available to borrow in office! 

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  • Monday, March 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Mindfulness) 9:05 AM, Skate Night at Riverside Arena 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Tuesday, March 5: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM, IEP (Pisko) 10:35 AM
  • Wednesday, March 6: Parent Meeting (Ringler) 8:20 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, PTA Board Meeting 2:30 PM
  • Thursday, March 7: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Kindergarten Parent Night 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 8: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM / Records Day in the afternoon
  • Saturday, March 9: Pancake Breakfast 9:00-12:00

 

  • Monday, March 11: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, Book Fair Begins
  • Tuesday, March 12: Achievement Team (Jones) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, March 14: Collaborative Learning Time 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, March 15: Book Fair Ends

BIG DATES

  • Wednesday, March 20 & Thursday, March 21: Sky Dome in the East Commons
  • Friday, March 22: Battle of the Books
  • Tuesday, March 26: Robotics Assembly (Rescheduled)
  • 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

80+ Basketball

 

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