Into the Storm

Somewhere at sea, a ship captain was notified that a pirate ship was approaching to attack. As he rallied his crew, he called for his sword and his red shirt. Mustering the crew’s courage they fought off the pirate ship. A week later, the captain was again informed that pirates were approaching and this time there were two ships. Once again he called for his sword and his red shirt and led the crew to victory. In awe of the captain’s courage, one of the crew members asked the captain, “Why do you call for your red shirt before going into battle?”. The captain responded that he needed to keep the crew’s courage up during the fight and if he was wounded, the blood would not show through his shirt. Therefore, he never went into battle without his red shirt. Once again, the captain was informed that pirates were approaching and this time, there was an entire fleet. The captain loudly called out, “Bring me my red shirt…and my brown pants!

Three years ago, I started a new blog as I began my time at Buchanan. My first post was called, “New Adventures” and I featured a sailing ship to symbolize new journeys and adventures. As we end this school year, I am also ending my weekly blogging journey as I focus on new projects. We are voyaging into strange waters and unknown seas. It’s been a challenging time as we abruptly moved from face to face instruction to online learning. Our team rose to the challenge and learned new skills and adapted to the new needs of our students literally overnight. We supported one another, we encouraged one another, and we lifted one another. I’m filled with pride at the dedication and devotion of our staff.

As pleased as I am of how we ended the year amid these challenges, I know that the real challenge may be just beginning. Our crew will be leaving rough waters and heading straight into the storm. We don’t know what fall will look like as the new school year begins. What will instruction look like? What will our schedule be? How will we keep students and staff safe? While I may not know the answers to the these questions now, I do know that we WILL find the answers together and make it through the storm. Franklin Roosevelt said, “A smooth sea never made a good sailor.” I think the same is true for educators. These trying times will make us all better and demonstrate to our community and to the world what educators are made of!



“I’m not afraid of storms, for I’m learning how to sail my ship.” – Louisa May Alcott

“And when the wind did not blow her way, she adjusted her sails.” – Elizabeth Edwards

“You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” – Christopher Columbus

Somewhere Over The Rainbow/What A Wonderful World



  • Monday, June 8: 1st Grade Materials Pick Up 9:00-10:30 / 4th Grade Materials Pick Up 10:30-12:00
  • Tuesday, June 9: Kindergarten Materials Pick Up 12:00-1:30 / 2nd Grade Materials Pick Up 1:30-3:00 / Make Up Time 4:00-5:30 
  • Wednesday, June 10: 3rd Grade Materials Pick Up 9:00-10:30 / Make Up Time 10:30-12:00 
  • Thursday, June 11: No Staff Meeting
  • Friday, June 12: “Farewell Parade” at noon. Staff will meet up outside the school at 11:45 to spread out (six feet apart) to wave goodbye to families as they drive by. Staff should wear masks and are encouraged to wear Teacher Strong shirts or #BuchananBears shirts. Signs are optional. Hope to see you there!


  • Monday, June 15: Report Card information due by midnight.
  • Building Open through Friday, June 19 from 8:00-5:30.

Paper has more Patience than People

If you’ve read “The Diary of a Young Girl” by Anne Frank, you will recognize the statement above that was shared multiple times in her writings. As I continue on with my autobiography readings, I decided to reread Anne Frank’s diary. It’s been many years since I first read it and reading it during our current situation of being stuck at home gave me a new perspective. It helped me gain an increased appreciation and empathy for the enormous struggle she endured during her years of hiding in the annex and a sense of amazement at how bravely she faced her situation. Here are some themes that stood out to me from her writings.

Paper has more patience than people: That phrase really stuck with me and I thought about how therapeutic and beneficial writing and journaling can be (especially when there is no other outlet for your thoughts and emotions). In Anne’s case, it allowed her to express her true feelings, her dreams, her fears and her hopes and also save them for posterity as she hoped they would be. In my daily life, I have found benefits from keeping a gratitude journal as well as my weekly blog posts. They help me reflect on my beliefs, my mistakes, and my hopes for the future. It’s a great way for educators and all people to express themselves and organize their thoughts in a safe environment.

Keep learning: Throughout her time in hiding, Anne and her entire family continued to learn and study. They had new books smuggled in on a regular basis and even did correspondence classes. From learning shorthand to history lessons, algebra and learning new languages, they kept their brains active with new learning. I was truly amazed at this as I now have two teenagers doing distance learning and the struggle is real trying to keep them engaged in schoolwork when they don’t see the point of it. Anne was truly an example of what we should all aspire to be: Learners who continually want to grow and develop. Even in an uncertain situation, she knew she wanted to be the best she could be and learn all she could.

Optimism: Anne battled with sadness, fear, and loneliness while hiding and often realized the reality that they may be captured and killed at any time. Yet, during her darkest hours she continued to be an optimist. It’s not that she didn’t feel dark emotions, it’s that she was able to see past them and continue to keep hope alive. She sometimes referred to their time in the annex as a big adventure and purposely framed things in a positive light as demonstrated by her statements of “Where there’s life there’s hope” and “In spite of everything I still believe that people are really good at heart“. She knew the ugliness of the world, but chose to focus on the beauty. That is true courage to me. The ability to see evil, yet focus our attention on the good.

Focus on the present: Perhaps my biggest take away from reading Anne’s diary was her ability to focus on the present moment. She often writes about happy memories from her past before her years of hiding. However, she is not stuck in the past. She also writes about her hopes and dreams for after the war is over. Yet, she doesn’t dedicate her mind and thoughts to what could be. Instead, she stays active in the current moment and does what she can in the here and now. She reads, she learns, she loves, she fights, she laughs, she cries, she lives! She finds joy from the past and hope in the future, but she doesn’t let them interfere with living in the present. May we all do the same.

Maybe it’s because I’m older or perhaps from the current situation and having teenage daughters of my own, but reading the diary of Anne Frank this time was much more emotional for me. As sad as her story was, I take comfort in the fact that her words remain to share her wisdom and her message to all those who will hear.



“I must uphold my ideals for perhaps the time will come when I shall be able to carry them out.” – Anne Frank

“I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.” – Anne Frank

“What a wonderful thought it is that some of the best days of our lies haven’t even happened yet.” – Anne Frank


  • Week of June 1: Building open for staff 8:00-5:30 PM Monday – Friday
  • Tuesday, June 2: Incoming Kindergarten Family Zooms 10:00, 11:00 & 1:00
  • Thursday, June 4: No Staff Meeting


  • Week of June 8: Building open for staff 8:00-5:30 PM Monday – Friday
  • Monday, June 8: Curbside Pick Up / First Grade 9-10:30, Fourth Grade 10:30-12:00
  • Tuesday, June 9: Curbside Pick Up / Kindergarten 12:00-1:30, Second Grade 1:30-3:00 PM
  • Wednesday, June 10: Curbside Pick Up / Third Grade 9-10:30, Make Ups 10:30-12
  • Thursday, June 11: Final Staff Meeting 1:15 PM


  • Week of June 15: Building Open for staff (optional) 8:00-5:30 PM Monday – Friday
  • Monday, June 15: Report Cards due at midnight, Building Open 8:00 – 2:00 PM

The ABCs of COVID-19

Adam hasn’t worked in two months and is waiting to get called back to work.

Betty is a single mom working from home and trying to juggle the zoom meetings and online class work for her two young children.

Chris is a ten year old boy who lives in an abusive home and is doing his best to keep up with online learning using an old tablet and staying out of the way of his angry father.

Dalia is a first year teacher trying to make lesson plans through virtual team meetings and struggling to record videos with spotty internet at home.

Ernesto is an English Language Learner who is struggles to keep up with online classes and doesn’t know how to ask for assistance. He is the only English speaker in his home.

Francis is a veteran teacher who is trying to learn how to conduct Zoom meetings while taking care of her parents who both live with her.

Gary has a special needs child who can no longer go to his care facility or have workers in the home. He is taking care of him full time while working from home.

Helena just had a baby. She is taking care of a newborn and trying to help her three other children navigate their online schooling with one computer in the home.

Isaac has been helping with food delivery at his place of worship. He just tested positive for COVID-19 and knows he is in a high-risk category with his chronic asthma.

Julie struggles with anxiety and depression. Being home for the past two months has caused her mental state to deteriorate rapidly and she doesn’t have family near to assist.

Khalid loves his online class meetings and seeing his friends, but does not have any books at home to read or anyone to help with his distance learning.

Laurie is a principal who does her best to answer texts and emails from staff and parents, but struggles with how best to support them and provide reassurance when she has so many questions herself.

Mohammed is healthy and in his early twenties. He doesn’t understand the fear that has gripped his community and is angry that his livelihood is in jeopardy and just wants things to return to normal now.

There are many more stories than there are letters in the alphabet. Our unique circumstances determine our reactions to what is happening around us. As someone so aptly stated, “We are not all in the same boat, but we are all in the same storm“. There is no right way to feel or to respond during this time. We simply need to have patience and show grace with one another and remember that EVERYONE has their own story. It’s important that we tell our own, but remember to listen to the stories of others as well.



“Stories constitute the single most powerful weapon in a leader’s arsenal.” – Howard Gardner

“Stories are memory aids, instruction manuals, and moral compasses.” – Aleks Krotoski

“There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou


  • Friday, May 15: Building Open for Staff 9:00-11:00. Update Participation Logs
  • Tuesday, May 19: Achievement Team Meeting 11:30 AM (K Retention)
  • Thursday, May 21: No Staff Meeting / Grade Level Class Grouping Meetings
  • Friday, May 22: Building Open for Staff 8:00-12:00. Update Participation Logs
  • Week of May 25: No Work/School for Memorial Day.
  • Tuesday, June 2: Optional Kindergarten Family Zoom Meetings with Round Up Team


Inspired by a friend, I recently read “Meditations” by the Stoic philosopher and Roman emperor, Marcus Aurelius. My friend had told me that “The obstacle is often the way“. That idea intrigued me and so I went to the source and read the book that has been sharing wisdom for nearly 2000 years. Here are some of the ideas that I felt applied to the world of education, especially now during our current situation.

The Obstacle: That which makes the obstacle also makes the way. This was one of the central themes of the book. The concept that challenges make us stronger and help direct our energy is a perfect reminder during our shift from face to face instruction to distance learning. This obstacle, this challenge, forced us to think outside the box and create new ways to facilitate teaching and learning. Along with this concept was the fact that it’s not what happens to us that shapes our destiny, it’s how we respond to it. Truly a timeless piece of wisdom.

The Present: The book started with the idea that the present moment is the only thing we can lose in life. The past has already happened and no one can change or take it away from us and the future will happen regardless of what actions we take. Knowing this, we should be mindful and fully present in each moment as we live it, for it is here alone that we can make an impact. Again, with all the stress that comes from not being able to connect with our students face to face, it’s important to keep our mind focused on what we can control, and that is the here and now.

Change: The universe is change. That statement was repeated throughout the book. The universe consists of everything and it is forever in a state of change. A seed changes to a tree which changes again. The body changes from life to death and then helps create new life again. Loss is change and gain is change. Why should we be fearful or sad at change as it is the way of the universe and it is why we exist? It’s pretty heavy stuff! As educators, we should be agents of change as we constantly learn new things, adapt to the needs of our students, and always keep an open mind for new ideas. Even now, we are changing our techniques to meet the changing needs of our students. If there is one constant in the universe, it is change and we should embrace it.

Purpose: His exhortation to know your purpose, reminded me of Simon Sinek’s advice to “Know your Why“. Everyone and everything has a purpose. The sun has a purpose to give warmth and sustain life, the eye has a purpose to see and the foot to walk. When we know our purpose, we obtain fulfillment and happiness. As educators, we know our purpose is to inspire and teach our students so that they will reach their full potential and lead happy and productive lives. Also, when we know and live our purpose, we do so not for gain or flattery, but because it is what we were meant to do. He asks, “Does a flower become more beautiful when given a compliment? Does a good deed become better when we receive praise?“. It’s a great reminder that when we know and live our purpose, we gain our own reward for doing what is right and helpful.

Marcus Aurelius may have lived in a different time and in different circumstances, but his words still ring true today and apply to our current situation. Let’s face this challenge together and with confidence, knowing that change is inevitable and while we may not be able to control our surroundings, we can control how we react. Remember, the obstacle is not in the way, the obstacle is the way!



“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.” – Marcus Aurelius

“The happiness of your life depends upon the quality of your thoughts.” – Marcus Aurelius

“What we do now echoes in eternity.” – Marcus Aurelius


  • Distance Learning Continues
  • Virtual Staff Meetings each Thursday at 1:15 PM
  • Staff may enter the building for short (45 min) visits each Friday 8:00-12:00

Roll Over Beethoven

I’ve always been a fan of Beethoven and have listened to his symphonies many times. Last week, I decided to shake things up a bit. During my daily walks with the dog, I listened to all nine symphonies in “Star Wars” order.  That is, in George Lucas’ brilliant order of (IV,V,VI), (I,II,III) & (VII,VIII,IX). Folks, this is what happens when I have too much time on my hands! The interesting thing was that when I switched up the order of the way I usually listened, I appreciated new things. It helped highlight some of the symphonies that usually get lost in between some of my favorites. Shaking up the order, made something familiar seem brand new. When I told my wife about my idea to listen to the nine symphonies in the order of the Star Wars saga, she said “That is the most Jon thing you have ever said“. As a self-proclaimed nerd, I took it as a compliment!

Now what do Beethoven and Star Wars have to do with Education? It reminded me of how the world of education has been flipped from school to home and how teachers have shifted from face to face to virtual lessons. The order has been switched, the methods are different, and many more things are out of our control. It certainly has caused everyone to look at education differently. However, it hasn’t been all bad. By shaking things up, I think it has caused a new appreciation for all that teachers do in schools everyday. Additionally, I have a sincere admiration for teachers’ ability to continue teaching with a new medium, continue to collaborate from afar, and continue to find ways to connect with students and families to show how much they care without missing a beat!

The music of Beethoven is incredible, no matter what order one listens to his symphonies. The same is true of teachers. Whether they are in a school with classes of students in front of them or having to work from home and creating virtual lessons and facilitating distance learning sessions. They are incredible and do the most important work every day. Roll over Beethoven, it’s time to celebrate educators! 



“To play a wrong note is insignificant; to play without passion is inexcusable.” – Ludwig van Beethoven

“Always remember, your focus determines your reality.” – George Lucas

“Roll over Beethoven and tell Tchaikovsky the news.” – Chuck Berry 


  • Week of 4/20: Every classroom holds a Secure Zoom or Google Meet with students and create platforms for new learning to begin
  • Tuesday, April 21: Meeting Agenda/Invite will be sent out
  • Thursday, April 23: Chromebook Pick Up 12:00-1:00, Virtual Staff Meeting 1:15 PM (tentative)


  • Week of 4/27: New learning instruction begins for integrated ELA & Math focusing on the five core areas in each subject, class meetings continue, feedback given on student work
  • Tuesday, April 28: Meeting Agenda/Invite will be sent out
  • Thursday, April 30: Virtual Staff Meeting 1:15 PM


  • Week of 5/4: New learning instruction continues
  • Thursday, May 7: Virtual Staff Meeting 1:15 PM

The Caged Bird

This post is a continuation of my autobiography readings and applying lessons learned for educators. The latest book was a special treat as I listened to the audio version of “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” read by the author, Maya Angelou. The story was already extremely moving, but hearing it read by the author added another level of poignancy to it. As with the other biographies, I had to let the information and the memories shared settle in my brain before I could write a post about what I had gleaned. That was especially true with this book. Here are a few highlights from the book that apply to the world of education.

READ: She wasn’t just an avid reader her entire life, she LOVED books. Even her earliest memories from childhood included stories that she read and loved. Throughout the book, literary references are provided that helped her contextualize events and often gave her the upper hand when dealing with situations. They were a retreat and a weapon that she used time and again. It’s no wonder she would turn her love of reading into a love of writing. As educators, we need to help our students develop that passion for reading. How can do this? By example and by getting books into their hands. When they see us reading and sharing, they may do the same. The greater access our students have to books, the greater chance they will find that book that may spark a love of reading for their entire life!

Graduation Ceremony: One of the memories she shared was of her eighth grade graduation ceremony. As she proudly waited for her diploma (this was in the 40’s), a white man came into gymnasium to give the commencement speech. In his brief presentation, he was able to shatter her pride in graduating and reinforce the expectations that the only way for a black student to succeed was through athletics. He talked about how new science and reading materials had been purchased for the white school and shared with pride that the athletic fields at her high school were to be renovated. He then promptly left before the ceremony had concluded for a more pressing engagement. As a school principal, I cringed through this chapter and felt embarrassed and angry at his actions. One of my goals My most important goal as an administrator is to inspire those around me and to teach every student to believe that anything is possible IF they work for it. We are in the dream accomplishing business, not the dream crushing business.

Mrs. Flowers and Miss Kirwin: Two people are described in the book who made a significant impact on her education. This first was not in school, but in the form of an adult who took an interest in her, spent one on one time with her, read books to her, listened to her read, and also taught the art of social etiquette. Mrs. Flowers made a lasting impression for the individual attention she gave. On the contrary, the one and only teacher that she mentioned (or even remembered) in her writings didn’t treat her any differently or spend any additional time with her at all. Miss Kirwin had the remarkable quality of treating ALL students with a level of dignity and respect that Maya had never known before. Another quality that she had was the ability to start each child with a clean slate every day. No matter the mistake or behavior the day before, she started without a grudge. No matter how well a student performed the day before, she started without any favorites. It was that universal respect and high expectations for everyone that kept Miss Kirwin in her memories for her entire life.

I could go on and on about things that stayed with me from this book, but the overarching theme is overcoming adversity. I think this quote accurately summarizes the stories and memories she shared in this book, “We may encounter many defeats but we must not be defeated“. She didn’t just survive in the face of adversity, she thrived in it. We may not be able to keep hardship and adversity from our students, but we can help them develop the strength and model the character that will help them to not only survive, but thrive!



“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” – Maya Angelou

“If you’re always trying to be normal you will never know how amazing you can be.” – Maya Angelou

“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” – Maya Angelou

#SaturdayShoutOut – Brian Butler


  • Monday, April 13: Return from “Spring Break”:)
  • Thursday, April 16: Academic Update Google Meet at 1:00 PM
  • Friday, April 17: Learning Activities for the week of April 20 sent out by 4:30 PM

One Impossible Thing at a Time

For the past ten weeks, I have been glued to the TV each Thursday evening to see the new Star Trek series “Picard” starring Patrick Stewart. In the series, we see the return of one of the series most beloved actors and starship captains after years of retirement. He struggles against an ongoing illness, the isolation of retirement, and of course an intergalactic threat. It’s a story of reconnecting with old friends and forging new friendships and realizing that the struggle and the fight are what keeps us alive and “young”. Throughout the series, when faced with staggering obstacles, Picard’s manta is “One impossible thing at a time“.

When I first heard those words two months ago, I thought it was a wise statement. When I heard those words again last week during the season finale, I thought, “This needs to be the mantra of educators during our current situation!“. Educators are literally doing one impossible thing at a time. When we found out we would not be able to be in the school for several weeks, teachers immediately went online and started sharing lessons via email and video. When teachers couldn’t collaborate in person, they learned how to use virtual settings and planned together remotely. When families reached out and said they needed assistance with technology and food (not necessarily in that order), we put together food distribution locations and arranged for families to receive devices for their home. When the governor made the necessary decision to close buildings for the remainder of the year, we came together to find new ways to make sure we are connecting and supporting ALL our students.

What new challenges will arise this year and how will we navigate these uncharted waters? I don’t know the specific answers to those questions, but I do know we will rise to the challenge by doing one impossible thing at a time! 



“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

“Nothing is impossible. The word itself says ‘I’m possible’!” – Audrey Hepburn

“Start by doing what’s necessary; then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” – Francis of Assisi


  • Friday, April 3: Post Lessons online for the week of April 13
  • Monday, April 6 – Friday, April 10: Spring Break!
  • Thursday, April 16: Virtual Staff Meeting on Google Meet 1:00 PM (optional)
  • Friday, April 17: Post Lessons online for the week of April 20

As always, you will receive updates from the district and myself as new developments arise! 

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Virtual Learning

Hi Everyone,

I’m skipping the blog format this week (unprecedented times call for unprecedented actions). I wanted to share how proud I am of this TEAM as we move into this uncharted territory. In the blink of an eye, you went from meeting the needs of students in the classroom to meeting the needs of students through distance learning. Many used virtual meetings to collaborate with teammates for the very first time and everyone has stretched themselves to meet the needs of our students. I think the hardest part is the uncertainty of when this will end and when will things go back to normal. I don’t know the answer to that, but I do know that we will get through this together. The governor said the other night that “Tough times don’t last, but tough people do“. I agree with that and I know our team is pretty tough (in a good way:) Below I will share out some of the things that are happening and a timeline of events, but first I wanted to share some levity to our current situation. Enjoy!

Video Link (16 seconds) – This was pretty much my experience with Zoom!


Each Weeknight at 7:00 PM I will be hosting “Story Time” and Each Monday at 9:00 AM I will be holding a virtual Celebrate Monday Assembly. Videos will be posted on our Buchanan Facebook page to help keep our students engaged during our time away from school.


Regardless of our return date, our Spring Break will still be the week of April 6 – April 10. Staff will not be expected to check emails or collaborate during this time.


I would like to welcome our newest member of our Buchanan Team! Bob Miller will be serving as our new Building Supervisor. Bob has been working at Niji-Iro Elementary and is thrilled to be at Buchanan. His only regret is that he has not been able to meet many of our staff or students yet, due to our current situation.


The district is providing iReady instructional licences for Reading & Math for all elementary students. A letter about iReady and how to access from home will be sent to parents tomorrow in my family update!


  • Monday, March 30: Elementary Principals virtual meeting with Central Office 10:45-12:00. Following the meeting, Kristen and I will call the no response parents.
  • Week of March 30 – April 3: The PTA has put together a virtual Spirit Week. It will be in the family update and on Facebook and Twitter!
  • Friday, April 3: Teachers will send out new learning activities to families for the week of April 13 (I know it’s a little confusing with the Spring Break schedule)
  • Week of April 6 – April 10: Spring Break
  • Return Date?? It’s Monday, April 13 on the calendar, but that is likely to change. As always, I will keep you updated on any new information as it becomes available


As I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my goals this year is to read an autobiography each month. For February, I chose “Long Walk to Freedom” by Nelson Mandela. It was a daunting book that took me over a month to read, but it was worth it. If Mandela’s life was written as fiction, no one would believe it, because it’s so incredible. He was born into one of the most oppressive societies in the world as a minority with virtually no rights. He gained an education, became a lawyer and a political activist. He served 27 years in prison, but never gave up the fight. Upon his release at age 71 he continued to fight against apartheid and within five years helped achieve the impossible. He helped overturn the racist government and became president of a free South Africa, a country he had lived most of life as a political criminal or prisoner. He earned the Nobel Peace Prize and became the father of a free South Africa, long after he had earned the title of “Madiba” or father. Like the other biographies I am reading, I wanted to share some lessons from Mandela’s example that could apply to the world of education.

No task is too small: Throughout his life story, there are examples of Mandela doing “small” things to help others. Whether it was teaching someone to read in prison or helping a neighbor with legal assistance. He often remarked that the leaders he looked up to always found time to do the “little things”. As educators, the little things we do for students and parents can mean the world. A simple smile, a phone call home to check on their well being, and a helping hand can make positive ripples in the life of a child.

All people can change: Some of the most remarkable parts of Mandela’s story take place in prison. As I read the many chapters of prison life, I kept thinking that Mandela sounded like the characters of Red and Andy from The Shawshank Redemption rolled into one and that character rather than escaping, changed the world around him. He continually spoke of the importance of hope and that he never doubted he would get out and that his struggle would end in success. There were many instances in the several prisons he was confined to, where he would earn the respect of the prison wardens and would often educate the guards on South African history and about the goals of the African National Congress that he worked with. He noted that once fear and ignorance were removed, respect and trust were gained. As educators, we can NEVER give up on a child. No matter their past, their situation or even their attitude. When we can remove fear and replace it with knowledge, we will change the course of their lives.

It’s about the future and not the past: Mandela had a habit of planting gardens in prison and would often turn a dusty patch of land in a prison courtyard into a beautiful vegetable garden. He would even share his yield with the prison guards and their families as well as his fellow political prisoners. His gardens would often take years to cultivate before they bore fruit. It was a great example of how he lived his life. He wasn’t focused on quick fixes, but tended and cared for his garden to produce better fruit each year. When he rose to power and became president of South Africa, he used this same approach. He told his country that it was not about looking back at the past with an eye for revenge, but rather looking toward the future with an eye on hope. As educators, we may never see the fruits of our labors. We tend the garden of children in our schools and we nurture them and hope that one day, those efforts will bear fruit with happy and successful adults. It’s hard work and requires patience and one eye on the present and one eye on the future.

My goal was not to reduce the incredible life of Nelson Mandela into a few bullet points. However, I did want to share how educators can learn from people of all walks of life. Especially those who made the “Long Walk to Freedom“.



“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

“There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.” – Nelson Mandela

Saturday Shout Out – Dina Rocheleau


  • Grades are due on Monday, March 23 at midnight
  • Report Cards will be visible to families on Parent Connect on Wednesday, March 25
  • The district will be sending out an update to staff (and then to families) very soon about how we are moving forward. As always, feel free to email or text me with any questions or clarifications.
  • I will continue to send out a staff post each week and also my weekly parent update to keep consistency for our team and our community.
  • Remember to take care of YOU and your family. Reach out to me or one another if you need assistance.


Strength from Weakness

Shortly after Kirk Douglass passed away (at the ripe old age of 103), I was listening to some of his old interviews on my way home from work. I had been introduced to many of Douglass’ films through my father who was an avid movie watcher. Kirk Douglass was known as a “tough guy” actor who played many strong lead roles, including the lead in one of my favorite films, “Spartacus“. He was also known to be courageous and firm in his convictions off the screen as well. But when speaking in the interview, he rebuked his image of a tough guy in films. He said instead that he enjoyed playing many different roles and emphasized contrasts whenever possible. When he played a strong character, he always focused on the weaknesses and insecurities. When playing a weak or timid character, he drew on their moments of strength and courage. It was finding strength in weakness that characterized his acting and also his life.

As brave as that approach to acting was, not everyone approved. His long time friend and frequent screen partner, John Wayne, once chided him for playing a weaker character. He said that people needed a strong model to look up to and that he could not afford to show weakness. Kirk disagreed with his friend and said that real strength came from courage on many levels and not just being the stereotypical tough guy. Again, it was finding strength in weakness that was key.

As an educational leader, it can be easy to get caught up in the idea that we need to be perfect, confident, and triumphant all the time. I don’t think that is what leadership is all about. I think it’s about always doing our best, not achieving perfection. It’s about being confident that things will work out, not just confidence in ourselves. It’s about triumph of the spirit as we pick ourselves up after each mistake. Let’s all learn from Kirk Douglass and always try to find strength in our weakness and not be afraid to share our weakness when we are strong.



“Where there is no struggle, there is no strength.” – Oprah Winfrey

“There is not time for ease and comfort. It is time to dare and endure.” – Winston Churchill

“Strength does not come from physical capacity, it comes from an indomitable will.” – Mahatma Gandhi


Tune in to “Story Time” during our break on Facebook! A new video will drop at 7:00 PM each weeknight featuring a Caldecott Award winning book.