Friday, March 20, 2015


We get to work with some amazing people. As educators we tend to plant our feet in a particular school and that is where we go each day. Being at the same school for the past seven years, I have had the pleasure to walk the halls with some talented teachers and devoted students for countless hours. The relationships are powerful, impactful and essential to the work we do. 

On occasion, we have the unexpected pleasure to cross paths with a random professional as they fill a role for an absence.

Taking the assignment of working in a building for a few weeks or months as a substitute can be a challenge. Unfamiliar faces, not knowing the climate, learning expectations and understanding the community in a short period of time are just some of the initial hurdles.

The impact of this role will be made by the effort and energy this person puts forth. What we often refer to as the "long-term sub" can be as simple as a "seat-filler" all the way to an educator that makes a lasting impression. The choice will be theirs. Their work ethic, passion and belief system will determine how they are remembered moments after they leave.

For the past six weeks I have had the pleasure work with Christine. Her name passed along from a colleague, she filled the absence of my guidance counselor who fell ill and was required to take time off. 

Today is her last day of her long-term assignment. As I excitedly welcome my guidance counselor back, and am grateful for her return, I reflect on the interaction I have had with this professional. As we were wrapping up the day yesterday, I said to her, "have a nice life". And with that, she moves on. 

As impersonal as this farewell may have sounded, the reality is that I will most likely never see her again. She has found work for next year, family is established in another community and she will meet a new staff in the fall. As in any line of work we grow our roots as we are transplanted. That is life. However, what I have learned from this random interaction, not unlike the others before, has left an impression on my as my role as a leader. Embrace these interactions with others. Learn from the moments in which you have. Recognize and acknowledge the efforts they put forth.

I firmly believe that we each have a purpose in the lives of others. As educators, that is an amazing responsibility. Do not take it lightly and take pride in what you do and how you do it. For me, this was a reminder of the role I play. I am grateful of the randomness of meeting others. There are lessons at every turn.

My message of appreciation:

You have been an awesome addition to our middle school staff these past 6 weeks. It was a pleasure to cross paths with you. You have made a difference.
As I joking stated yesterday, have a nice life. It sounds bizarre to say and odd to just think it, but the reality is we most likely won't cross paths again. Ever. That's just how this crazy world we live in works. People come and go. I believe that there is a reason you were brought to us if even for a short time.
Your professionalism, care for kids, attention to detail and genuine respect for your job are second-to-none.  
With that, be well. Continue to guide kids in the ways you do best. I am inspired by your passion for teaching and learning and moved by your love for children.
Yes, you are that good at what you do. 
With gratitude and respect for your work, 

Monday, March 16, 2015

Moments Between the Moments

As educators we are many things.

We give of ourselves tirelessly and pour our energy into our students. We refine our craft, strengthen relationships and work to ensure that each day every student grows in their academic journey. As teachers and leaders we wear many hats. We are more than just teachers of English and Math and Choir, we are an extension to the day. When we decided to be teachers we knew that our work would not end when the school bell rang. Our days would roll into nights.

It is during these extracurricular activities that we guide students to experience the moments between the moments. Those times in which the classroom walls have been pushed aside, the doors opened and the structures removed. The rules change, the dynamics shift and the social structure of the school day is thrown out the window. Often times, these activities allow students to change character, let down their guard and take risks. It is an entirely different experience. It is a part of their growth.

Tonight I found quite a few of those moments. Peter Pan is this years school play. Our 7th and 8th grade middle school students are putting on a show like no other. It is impressive. These students found their moment between the moment.

As I looked at the props, the backdrop, the transitions and of course the actors themselves, I realize that these moments are just as important as the moments between 7:30AM-2:30PM. These are the moments between the moments. And, as middle level educators we embrace these opportunities and know their vital importance to the academic experience. We know that experiences like these are irreplaceable and unable to be created in any other setting. They are essential.

Tonight was impressive. It was affirming. And, for those of us that work with kids at the middle level, it was as equally rewarding to see them during this phase of their journey in life. It will be these moments between the moments that will be remembered as they grow through their high school years and beyond.

This evening, and in the years to come, all of these students will take flight right alongside Peter Pan and Tinker Bell as a result of this experience.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Silver Lining

Take advantage of today. Don't wait until tomorrow.

Our gift as educators and as leaders needs to be shared.

Our community of learners looks to us to guide our environments down a path of success. Success takes on many forms. Walk side-by-side on this journey. It can not be done alone.

Always look for the silver lining, see the glass as half-full and chose optimism. As teachers and as leaders we bring so much hope to each day. We set the tone. Be responsible.

Teach, lead and listen to those around us. Be passionate about your work. Love what you do. Reflect on your teaching. Students will let us know about their learning . We should listen to what they have to say. Allow yourself as a teacher and as a leader to adapt.

Continue to give and you will be rewarded. 

Unconditionally and universally, your dedication to what you do and how you deliver the talents that you posses will be recognized. The reward will not be a plaque, a promotion or a promise, it will simply be the success of those closest to you. Your students, your colleagues and your community will reward you with kindness, support and belief.

There is no gift greater than the love and the belief from those around you. Be humble. Accept graciously, give tirelessly.

Be amazing today. No need to wait.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

The Time is Now.

With three full months of school left, there is plenty to be accomplished in this academic year. Teachers are providing lessons full of passion, students are gaining knowledge by the moment and the school community is thriving to the fullest. There is much yet to be done.

The reality is though that for many of us the current school year is winding down faster than the calendar suggests. As difficult as this sounds, many of us in administration are already in the planning stage of the school year that awaits. Staffing, budgeting, scheduling and more has become our focus. The 2015/2016 school year will be upon us before we know it.

The time is now.

To start next year, after an in-depth technology task force completed hours of work and reported their findings to the school district and community, our middle grade students (6th through 8th) will all start the year with Ipad mini's in their possession.  We will roll out 3600 devices in a district of 16,000 students. This is no small feat. And, for those that have already participated in something like this before, you know there is work to be done.

The time is now.

As we close in on Digital Learning Day on March 13th, there is a level of anticipation like never before. Our teachers and our students are preparing for what lies ahead. Our district is blessed that we have embraced technology integration over the years in our buildings. Each school and each teacher is incorporating the Blended Learning mindset and creating a culture that supports an online component. We have been planning, we will be ready.

The time is now.

While many of our teacher have been using Ipads over the past few years, some staff are less familiar with the opportunities that await them. Therefore, to ensure a level of readiness, my staff is doing the following as we close out this school year to prepare for next:

- Familiarizing themselves with the Ipad and it's potential with instruction.
- Discovering apps and programs to implement into learning.
- Exploring the device and it's various forms to interact with students and parents.
- Connecting globally with educators to hear of successes and failures.
- Collaborating with colleagues within the building and district to discover its layers.
- Risk taking and allowing themselves to fall forward with trial and error in the infancy stages.
- Supporting one another on this journey of teaching and learning.

As educators, we realize that in order to be ready for what lies ahead, we must plan ahead. The time is now. Each day is a celebration of our successes. Let's be ready for tomorrow and be ready to support this next layer on our professional academic journey.