The First American

One of my goals this year is to read an autobiography each month. I enjoy reading autobiographies, because I like to hear about people in their own words and from their perspective in their own time. My hope is to glean from the lessons shared from historical figures and apply them to educational leadership. My January book was the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, who is often referred to as “The First American“.  Here are some of the lessons I took away from my reading.

He was a life-long learner: Throughout the story of his life, Franklin used every spare dollar he had in buying new books. In fact, he often bartered with friends to obtain new reading material and even helped found the first public libraries in America. He also tackled the task of learning new languages (plural) when he was in his thirties. Later in life, he also continued his scientific experiments, including his famous “Philadelphia Experiment” with electricity. He never stopped being curious and never stopped learning. Sounds like a teacher to me!

He was all about relationships: Franklin was famous for his art of compromising with people. One of his methods for doing this was eating and drinking with his “enemies”. Even when he had severe differences with rivals, he would often meet with them at their home and converse and even argue over a meal, but he never let it get personal. He kept things professional and realized that he often had to work with those he did not agree with and kept a civil demeanor. In education, we often have to deal with people who have different viewpoints and we can follow Ben’s example of working with people (even those we don’t agree with) towards a common goal.

He always put it in writing: One of the recurring themes of the book, was Franklin’s insistence on putting things in writing. Whether starting up a business or chartering a project he always made sure to put all agreements in writing. This was with both friends and strangers. He noted that many friendships disintegrated, because of disagreements that could have been prevented by simply formalizing things at the beginning of project. As a school administrator, I was once told that “the weakest ink is better than the strongest memory“. I have found that to be true and try to take Franklin’s advice of keeping things clear and in writing whenever possible.

He was full of wisdom: Many of Ben Franklin’s proverbs are still used today and his wit was legendary both in his own time and far beyond. One of my favorite pieces of advice that he gave was “One today is worth two tomorrows“. As an educator, I have always found this to be true. The student we have in front of us right now and the difference we can make each day in the classroom and in the school is what makes our jobs so special. We can plan for tomorrow, but what we do today is what makes all the difference.

Ben Franklin lived over two centuries ago. However, his life and lessons resonate clearly today just as they did at the founding of our country and serve as a road map to teachers, principals, and everyone who works in the schools. He may not have been an educator, but he certainly taught by his example and left lessons that are still relevant today!



“Love your enemies, for they tell you your faults.” – Ben Franklin

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Ben Franklin

“If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing.” – Ben Franklin


  • Monday, March 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 10: District PD 8:00-11:00/Building PD 12:30-3:30, Skate Night 6-8 PM
  • Wednesday, March 11: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, March 12: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Tornado Drill 1:30 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 13: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Records Day in PM
  • Saturday, March 14: Pancake Breakfast


  • Monday, March 16: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (Book Fair Begins)
  • Tuesday, March 17: Dennis Mathew/Author Assemblies in the PM, Grades due at midnight
  • Wednesday, March 18: Presentation by Andrea Oquist 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, March 19: PLC session 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, March 20: Report Cards go home


  • Wednesday, March 25: Battle of the Books
  • Friday, March 27: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM / Building PD in afternoon

Don’t Let the Old Man In

Last week I had the pleasure of watching Englebert Humperdinck in concert in Detroit. This is the point where most readers are probably saying, “Englebert who?” and the rest are saying, “Is he still alive?” The answer to the first question is that he is a recording artist who has sold over 140 million records and has had decades of hits. The answer to the second question is that he is just shy of his 84th birthday. Being a music lover of all genres, I wanted a chance to see him perform while I could. Walking into the concert, I enjoyed being one of the youngest members in the audience. I was expecting him to come on the stage and sing his songs, tell some stories, and call it an early evening. I did not get what I was expecting.

The concert started with Englebert singing his songs while being projected on the jumbotrons on either side of the stage. After a few songs he took off his tuxedo jacket and unbuttoned his shirt to the excitement of the female members of the crowd. Throughout the performance, he was running across the stage giving high fives to the audience members, jumping up on the piano, and at the end of the show put on a boxing robe and strutted across the stage. Right about the time I was thinking, this guy does NOT act his age he told a story about that very subject. One day, Clint Eastwood and Toby Keith were golfing. While on the course, Toby asked, “Clint how do you keep it up? You jog everyday, you direct movies, and you star in movies. What’s your secret?“. Clint’s simple reply was, “I don’t let the old man in“. Toby immediately turned that phrase into a song (which was later used in Clint’s movie The Mule) and when Englebert heard the song he said that the words could have been written for him. He said he had lived his life by that philosophy and began singing it at every one of his performances.

Twenty-five years into my educational journey, I sometimes feel pretty old and run down. However, I have many mentors and people that I look up to that are older than I am, but still have the fire in their eyes and an energy that is contagious. I’ve learned from my educational heroes to draw on my passion as an educator and keep a positive and energized spirit. Now, I’ve also learned another lesson from Englebert Humperdinck’s example and will follow the advice not to let the old man in!


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“The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, the young know everything.” – Oscar Wilde

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

“True terror is to wake up one morning and discover that your high school class is running the country.” – Kurt Vonnegut


  • Monday, March 2: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM (with special guest Dina Rocheleau – Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum & Instruction in Ferndale)
  • Tuesday, March 3: Achievement Team (Kaufman) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, March 5: (No Staff Meeting), 2nd Grade Debrief at Central Office 8:30-11:30 AM, Kindergarten Parent Orientation 6:00 – 7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 6: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting


  • Monday, March 9: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 10: No School for Students, District PD 8:00-11:00 AM, Building PD 12:30-3:30 PM, PTA Skate Night 6:00-8:00 PM
  • Wednesday, March 11: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, March 12: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Tornado Drill 1:30 PM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 13: Students dismissed at 12:10 PM, Records day in the PM


  • Tuesday, March 17: Grade due by midnight

Frost Revisions

Several years ago, one of my colleagues was sharing how she had been exposed to drafts of Robert Frost’s poetry and what a profound impact it had on her. As a lover of Frost’s poems, she was used to reading them as a finished product in all their glory. Seeing the poems with words scribbled out, numerous corrections and edits, and frequent searches for the perfect word reminded her that Frost was not simply inspired by a muse as he sat down and composed beautiful poetry. Alas, he was human. A human who needed to scratch, scrape and claw his way through his poetry to find the perfect words. The lesson my friend learned was that Robert Frost had a growth mindset. He didn’t do one shot poetry; he worked and struggled to improve, revise, and grow.

The best thing about this realization from my friend was that she didn’t keep it to herself. Like all good educators, she not only learned from her experience, she shared it with others so they could grow too. I happened to be one of the people she shared it with. It made an impact on me and sparked my thinking. I wrote it down in my list of blog ideas and there it waited…until now.

As educators, we know the importance of having a growth mindset and that excellence doesn’t happen by chance, but by hard work, endurance, and grit. However, I think sometimes we forget that truth when we think of the “giants” of poetry like Byron, Angelou, Dickinson, and even Frost. We may think of them as people who had a natural gift for writing and forget that they put blood, sweat, and tears into their works to make them so great. When we share these examples with our students, we can show them that ALL people need to work for improvement. And when you are feeling frustrated with your own writing skills, perhaps this story of “Frost Revisions” will remind you that nobody is perfect…at least the first time.



“Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and thought has found words.”Robert Frost

Forgive me my nonsense, as I also forgive the nonsense of those that think they talk sense.”Robert Frost

“In three words I can sum up everything I’ve leaned about life: it goes on.”Robert Frost


  • Monday, February 24: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05, Achievement Team Meeting (Ringler) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, February 25: Achievement Team Meeting (Mcguigan) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 26: Bill Roberts in the Lounge 8:00 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 27: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, All Principal Meeting @ Churchill 3:00-4:30 PM
    • Math Theme: Problem Solving
  • Monday, March 2: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, March 3: Achievement Team Meeting 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, March 5: 2nd Grade Module Feedback Meeting in AM, Kindergarten Parent Information Night 6:00-7:00 PM
  • Friday, March 6: Jon in Lansing for MEMSPA Board Meeting 9:00-3:00 PM



You probably know that this week, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences named “Parasite” the “Best Picture” of 2019. It is the 92nd time they selected a Best Picture of the year. What you may not know is that I collect the best picture winners from each year. My collection of 91 celebrated movies (soon to be 92) is very diverse. The movies range from war films to love stories, from violent to family friendly, from silent to musicals. Some have stood the test of time and some haven’t aged well. In fact the only thing they all have in common is that at one point in time, the Academy felt that it was the best film made that year.

Some of the films I love and have watched many times. Some of the films I don’t care for at all and wonder how they were chosen as Best Picture. However, I enjoy watching these films, because they each tell a story. Not only the story that is on the screen, but the story of what was valued and appreciated at the time of the film. If I simply watched films from genres I enjoy and the latest releases, I would be limiting myself to a very narrow focus and would have missed a larger world of film and experiences that have given me an appreciation for views and tastes different than my own. They also show me how the medium of film has evolved and grown through the years.

As an educator, I need to appreciate views and experiences that are different from mine. As pleasant as it sounds to be surrounded by teachers, parents, and even students who think like I do and respond the way I expect them to, it’s unrealistic and even egotistical. It’s going on the assumption that my way is the correct way, when in reality, I need to set the vision, but people should be able to work, learn, and grow in their own way. Differences in opinions and approaches in a respectful environment can be a powerful foundation for a unified, but diverse team. That’s how I view the movies in my collection; unity in their selection as best picture, but diverse in their themes and styles. Let’s create that same blend of unity and diversity in our school setting!



“Fasten you seatbelts. It’s going to be a bumpy night.” – All About Eve (Best Picture 1950)

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.” – The Godfather (Best Picture 1972)

“I’m the king of the world!” – Titanic (Best Picture 1997)

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Click here to watch the six minute, award winning short film “Hair Love”


  • Monday, February 17 & Tuesday, February 18: No School for Midwinter Break
  • Wednesday, February 19: IEP (Tanner) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, February 20: No Staff Meeting (all principals & literacy coaches at Central Office for training all day)
  • Friday, February 21: IEP (Banter) 9:30-12:00
    • Math Theme: Geometry
  • Monday, February 24: Students of the Month Assembly (GRIT), Achievement Team Meeting (Ringler) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, February 25: Achievement Team Meeting (Mcguigan) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 26: Bill Roberts in lounge 8:00 AM, Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM
  • Thursday, February 27: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM
    • Math Theme: Problem Solving


Last week, my youngest daughter called me with an emergency. She needed me to pick her up from her mom’s house for an urgent mission. I was there in a matter of minutes and assessed the situation. It was just as she had described it….dead. Yes, her phone was dead as a doornail. We traveled to the Sprint store and fortunately the technician was able to restart her phone and in a matter of minutes it was good as new. My daughter was so happy and grateful that she actually treated me to a hot chocolate at the Starbucks next door. I was guaranteed hero status for a full fifteen minutes!

You’re probably thinking that a dead phone does not rise to the level of an emergency. However for a sixteen year old girl, it absolutely was. Her connection to her peer group, her access to information, and her pathway to entertainment were all gone without her phone. What would have been a minor inconvenience to me, was a major disaster through her eyes. I chose to approach the situation through her lens.

As educators, we are often approached with situations that are deemed “emergencies” by others. Teachers deal with student issues that may seem small in comparison with the needs of the classroom. Principals deal with teacher issues that may seem small in comparison to the needs of the school. Superintendents deal with principal issues that may seem small in comparison with the needs of the district. But the reality is that to that one student, teacher, or principal it may mean the world. Looking through the eyes of another is a skill that we NEED as educators. It can help us create trusting relationships and develop a global perspective.



“One of the tests of leadership is the ability to recognize a problem before it becomes an emergency.” – Arnold Glasow

“The emergencies you train for almost never happen.” – Ernest Gann

“Real friends are someone who is right next to you in emergencies, not only in parties” – Hiroko Sakai


  • Monday, February 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM, parent meeting (Ringler) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, February 11: Achievement Team (Allmayer) 8:15 AM, Follow Up Meeting (Ringler) 9:05 AM, Parent Meeting (Hochkins) 3:20 PM
  • Wednesday, February 12: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, Founders Day at Schoolcraft (Doors open at 5:30 PM)
  • Thursday, February 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM (facilitated by Theresa O’Brien and Jen Cory), PTA Meeting 7:00 AM
    • Math Theme: Measurement
  • Monday, February 17 & Tuesday, February 18: Midwinter Break
  • Wednesday, February 19: IEP (Tanner) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, February 20: Coaches Meeting at Central Office (all principals & literacy coaches)
    • Math Theme: Geometry


One of my favorite pieces of art is “The Old Guitarist” by Pablo Picasso. It was done during his Blue Period and I’ve visited it many times in the Art Institute of Chicago. The painting depicts an elderly man hunched over his guitar with this head hanging down. He is wearing ragged clothes and is barefoot as he sadly strums the guitar in a sitting position that looks like he could be begging on the street. The piece has always spoken to me and brings up feelings of loneliness and despair. The last time I was there, I decided to purchase a magnet of the painting that I placed on our refrigerator.

One morning, when I came into the kitchen, I noticed that the magnet had been turned horizontally and gave a completely different impression. After years of looking at this tired and sad man hunched over his guitar, he now appeared to be lounging comfortably as he strummed his guitar. I stared at it for a while, because I had never even considered seeing it in that manner. When I asked my daughters about it, they said it just looked more natural that way and had adjusted it accordingly. Wow! What a difference was made by a new perspective.

As educators, our job can be pretty grueling. At first glance, it can look like an impossible task. We often struggle with behavior issues in the classroom. We are challenged with parents who can be demanding and impatient. We have too many duties and not enough time to do them. But when we look closer, we can see from a different perspective. The behavior issues are often from trauma or work avoidance and are a message to us that they need the patience and guidance that may only come from a dedicated teacher that they trust. The demanding parents are telling us that we have been entrusted with their most precious possession and they need reassuring. The mountain of duties that we have and the little time to do it in is the continuous battle that we will continue to fight as long as we have the passion and energy to do it, because it’s what our students need! Depending on your perspective, education can be the most grueling or the most rewarding career one could have. The reality is, it’s both.


“You must look within for value, but must look beyond for perspective.” – Denis Waitley

“Not enough people in this world carry a cosmic perspective with them. It could be life-changing.” – Neil deGrasse Tyson

“It’s useful to go out of this world and see it from the perspective of another one.” – Terry Pratchett


  • Monday, February 3: IEP (Jones) 8:30 AM, Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 4: Achievement Team (Hurula) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 5: Math Assemblies in the afternoon 1:30 (2-4) & 2:30 (K/1)
  • Thursday, February 6: PLC Session (Data) 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 7: REED (Medellin) 8:15 AM, VIP Dance in the Gym 6:00-8:00 PM
    • Math Theme of the Week: ESTIMATION (Estimation Jars & East Commons Activities)


  • Monday, February 10: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 11: Achievement Team (Allmayer) 8:15 AM, Follow Up Meeting (Ringler) 9:05 AM
  • Wednesday, February 12: Elementary Principals Meeting 1:00-4:30 PM, Founders Day Banquet at Vista Tech (Doors open at 5:30 PM)
  • Thursday, February 13: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, PTA Meeting 7:00 PM
    • Math Theme of the Week: MEASUREMENT 


  • Monday, February 17 & Tuesday, February 18: Mid Winter Break!!
    • Math Theme of the Week: GEOMETRY

Candid Photos

Once again, the Lifetouch photographers came into the school and took candid photos of the students throughout the building to help fill in the pages of our yearbook. As much as I love the formal pictures of our students and staff and seeing everyone dressed up and looking their best, it’s more fun to see the candid photos.  These unplanned photos really capture the spirit of the building, the joy of the students, and the excitement that only happens in an elementary school!

As a principal, I often think of observations in terms of our school pictures. Formal observations are like the fall pictures, where everyone looks their best, wears their nicest outfit, and has a perfect smile.  The lessons are neatly aligned to the targets and students respond on cue to the perfectly timed questions of the teacher. They also make great social media posts to share what’s happening in classrooms. However, I prefer the walk-through observations that are like the candid photos that show what really happens throughout the day and captures the true culture of a classroom. The candid photos, just like the walk-throughs aren’t as pretty, but they are real. They show the mistakes, the funny looks, and even things we didn’t know were happening. They also capture the magic that happens in a moment that we may have otherwise missed.

Staged photos and formal observations are often prettier and always safer. I prefer the candid shots and informal walk-throughs. I want to see our students, staff, and our school through a realistic lens and celebrate who we really are, even when nobody is looking. The real beauty is in truth and accepting who we are, while always striving to be better each day. So enjoy those candid photos and the magic they capture!



Photography is the art of observation.” – Elliott Erwitt

“In photography there is a reality so subtle that it becomes more real than reality.” – Alfred Stieglitz

“There is one thing the photograph must contain, the humanity of the moment.” – Robert Frank


  • Monday, January 27: Students of the Month Assembly 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Debrief at Central Office 8:30-11:30 AM, REED (Pisko) 3:20 PM
  • Tuesday, January 28: IEP (Ringler) 8:15 AM, 2nd Grade Roll Out at Central Office 8:30-11:30 AM
  • Wednesday, January 29: Jon & Kristen to Roosevelt in the afternoon
  • Thursday, January 30: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Staff Luncheon in the Lounge, Skate Night 6:00-8:00 PM


  • Monday, February 3: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, February 4: Achievement Team (Hurula) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, February 5: Math Assemblies in the gym 1:30 PM (2-4) 2:30 PM (K&1)
  • Thursday, February 6: PLC – Looking at Data 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 7: REED (Medellin) 8:15 AM, VIP DANCE in the gym 6:00-8:00 PM

The Whistle

Over winter break, we had several family members at our house who are teachers. Their service and experience spanned across Michigan, Ohio, Illinois, and California. As the only administrator, I did more listening than talking, because I wanted to see how teachers saw the current state of education. Let me start by saying that each member of this group had at least twenty years of experience and were all positive and motivated teachers. Of course we spent some time discussing the changes and trends in salary and benefits for teachers across the country, but the majority of the discussion was on the climate in the world of education…and it wasn’t good.

If I could sum up in one word what I captured from the conversation about what it is like to be a teacher in today’s world, it would be “exhausting“. Teachers are tired and not the kind of tired that a good night’s sleep will remedy. They are tired of continuously shifting targets, curriculum, and assessments. They are tired from a knowledge that children need social and emotional support, but aren’t given the time or the tools to address those needs. They are tired of having things added to their plates, while nothing ever comes off. Most of all, they are tired of not being treated like the dedicated professionals they are. Here are some examples that were shared.

One teacher shared that she felt like everything she had been doing for twenty years was all wrong. Another felt that every observation or meeting with the administrator ended in a critique or a “gotcha” to demonstrate the superior knowledge of the administrator. The most shocking story shared was of a principal who brought a whistle into the staff meetings and would blow the whistle if teachers were talking or getting off track. Seriously!

Let’s be clear, I do believe that we need to keep up to date with the best instructional practices. Actionable feedback IS important for teacher growth and continuous learning. And yes, staff meetings should be kept on track to honor everyone’s time.  However, it’s the way we do things and the spirit they are given and received that creates the climate. As we shift instructional practices, give TIME and training to staff while still respecting the years of experience they bring. When giving feedback, ASK teachers what they feel went well and where they would like to grow. Most teachers are harder on themselves than a principal ever could be. Finally, be RESPECTFUL of educators. Teaching is a calling and all who have answered that calling deserve to be treated like the professionals they are.

I don’t have all the answers, but I do feel that education is a difficult enough profession without us belittling or attacking one another. Principals need to support teachers, so that teachers can support students. Everyone wants to be a on a winning team and I look at a winning team, as one where everyone supports one another, challenges one another, and respects one another. Making our profession the best it can be starts with us!

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“A good teacher can inspire hope, ignite the imagination, and instill a love of learning.” – Brad Henry

“One child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world.” – Malala Yousafzai

“Teaching is a walk in the park….Jurassic Park!” – Anonymous


  • Monday, January 20: No School in observance of MLK Day
  • Tuesday, January 21: Achievement Team (Allmayer) 8:15 AM
  • Wednesday, January 22: Data Dives (Rotating Subs)
  • Thursday, January 23: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, IEP (Banter) 9:00-12:00 in the Art Room
  • Friday, January 24: Lifetouch will be doing candid shots for the yearbook


  • Monday, January 27: Students of the Month Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM, 4th Grade Debrief on Integrated Units
  • Tuesday, January 28: IEP (Ringler) 8:15 AM, 2nd Grade Roll out for Integrated Units
  • Thursday, January 30: Staff Meeting 8:05 AM, Staff Luncheon in the lounge, Skate Night 6:00-8:00 PM


  • Monday, February 4: Celebrate Monday Assembly 9:05 AM
  • Wednesday, February 5: Math Assemblies in the Gym (PM)
  • Thursday, February 6: PLC – Looking at Data 7:50-8:50 AM
  • Friday, February 7: VIP Dance in the gym 6:00-8:00 PM

Who Am I?

One of the most basic questions every child asks is “Who am I?” The answer is usually provided early on from parents sharing about their family, their heritage, and history. As an adopted child, I didn’t have any of that information and was left for many years with the question of “Who am I?” remaining unanswered.

A couple of years ago, I resolved to seek an answer to that question. After a lot of work, I was able to obtain my original birth certificate (They are sealed when a child is adopted). Having only a name and birthday, I sought out to find my birth mother. As the new year began, I made a phone call to a person in Phoenix, Arizona, who could potentially be my biological mother. I got an answering machine and left the awkward message that I was born on July 7, 1972 in Chicago and I think she may be my birth mother and to call me if she would like to communicate with me.  Nearly a week later, I received a return phone call. She  told me that she knew this day would come eventually and was glad that I had reached out. For the next two years, we called each other on holidays and birthdays, but the conversations were always short and sometimes awkward. As the new year approached this year, I took a chance and offered to fly out to Phoenix to meet her if she was willing. She said yes!

On Friday evening, January 3, I got on a plane and flew from Detroit to Phoenix. I arrived at midnight and prepared to meet my mother for the first time. On Saturday, I called her house and asked where she wanted to meet. She said she would pick me up around noon and we would go to a park, where we could spend the day together and talk. Around 2:30 she arrived to pick me up. After an embrace, I asked if we could get our picture together to remember the moment. She explained that she had tried to gather the courage to walk out the door for several hours. I knew how she felt, because I was nervous as well.  Both of us had been thinking the same thing all morning….What if I am a disappointment?  

As we sat on the bench under the Arizona sun, I asked if I could write in a journal as I asked her questions, because my mind was so scattered, I wouldn’t be able to remember a thing. She agreed and I asked questions ranging from her childhood and adult life, to the family history and our heritage, to the details of my adoption. I felt like a reporter getting information and it actually helped take some of the emotional stress off both of us.  She then asked about my life and my adoptive family. During the visit, I shared a picture book I had made for her of my years growing up and a CD of music I had written and performed several years ago. She then shared with me pictures of herself through the years and gave me three stones that represented meaningful moments in her life. After several hours, we went to Olive Garden, where we enjoyed a meal together and continued our conversation. After the meal, we took another picture together, this one feeling much more comfortable with one another. She dropped me off at the hotel and I told her I would call her when I landed in Detroit the next day. I did and we agreed to continue visits each year.

Part of me was glad that it was such a whirlwind trip, with a return to school the very next day. It helped me process the experience, without too much downtime. What did I discover? I discovered a lot of facts about my biological parents and my heritage. I discovered that I really miss my parents who raised me and who have since passed away. Most importantly, I discovered the answer to the question, “Who am I?“. I’m a person who is grateful for the blessings and people in my life. I’m a person who makes A LOT of mistakes, but wants to continually improve myself. I’m a person who now knows that who we are is not defined by our past, but by our hearts, our dreams, and our actions.


Waiting to meet for the first time.


Famous people who were adopted

Steve Jobs, Ray Liotta, Dave Thomas, Sarah McLachlan, Faith Hill, Moses & of course Superman 

One Word 2020

In 1966, John Lennon was visiting a modern art exhibit. While making his way through the museum, he came to a piece that consisted of a ladder that led to a magnifying glass hanging from the ceiling. John made his way up the ladder and grabbed the glass to see the message that was written on the ceiling. There was one word – YES. In many later interviews, he credited that positive message to a turning point that led him to meet the artist, Yoko Ono, who would become his partner and true love. He had been expecting a joke, or something negative, but that simple affirmation inspired him.

TED Talks and podcasts are filled with examples of successful people who talk about the power of YES. One of my favorites is “My year of saying yes to everything” by Shonda Rhimes. She describes the transformative power of saying yes and how it helped her overcome fears, open new possibilities, make her a better parent, and a “titan” in television writing. She shares how saying yes brought color back into her life and contrary to logic, saying yes to everything didn’t overload her, it helped bring back balance and joy through focusing on the things she said yes to, starting with playing with her daughter.

For the past five years, I have selected One Word to be my focus for the year. They have been a trait that I want to develop or an act I want to perform. They have included “Inspire, Gratitude, Kindness, Patience, and Light“. This year, I have selected the word YES! My goal is not to make everyone happy, but to explore new possibilities. Saying yes can open doors, create new opportunities, and make our world bigger. I plan to record my journey of saying yes and documenting along the way the new experiences it leads to. Will you join me in being open to new ideas and new adventures? I hope you said, YES! 



“Just say YES and you’ll figure it out afterwards.” – Tina Fey

“When you say YES, the universe helps you.” – Dan Brule

“The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty YES to your adventure.” – Joseph Campbell

YES officer, I saw the speed limit sign, I just didn’t see you.” 


  • Monday, January 6: Celebrate Monday Assembly (Confidence) 9:05 AM
  • Tuesday, January 7: Achievement Team (Tanner) 8:15 AM
  • Thursday, January 9: PLC Session 7:50-8:50 AM, Lock Down Drill 9:30 AM, Jon & Julie at CO for Secretary Interviews 12:00-4:00 PM
  • Friday, January 10: School Improvement Committee 8:15 AM


  • Friday, January 17: F&P due in Data Profile for all K/1 students and those below grade level 2-4. 
  • Monday, January 20: No School for Teachers (MLK day)
  • Wednesday, January 22: Data Dives (Rotating Subs)