As I was driving to school today I couldn’t help but laugh as I thought back to the first day of school! We started the year with a SOLAR ECLIPSE! It’s safe to say that none of us have ever started a school year like that before.
From day one, this year has been full of exciting events. I am so grateful for each and every one of you. Thank you for pushing yourselves to your edge. Thank you for all of the hard work that you put in to R Factor, JW YOUniversity, JW Grows and all of the little things that you do for kids each and every day! Thank you for giving me grace as I continue to grow as a leader. I learn from you every day. My goal is to SERVE you!
Have a great summer! Relax, enjoy your families, oh and don't forget to order your staff shirt!
On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of attending the Iftar dinner at the Noor Islamic Center. This dinner is a celebration that occurs during Ramadan.
Ramadan is the Muslim Holy month at which time Muslims around the world fast from sunrise to sunset. The Iftar dinner was a gathering of community leaders of all faiths from around Central Ohio. We celebrated by breaking the fast together at 8:47 PM when the sun set. There were many speakers including Mayor Ginther and leaders of the Muslim community. The Valedictorian of Hilliard Darby High School also spoke. The message was one of peace and empathy.
As I experienced this event, I couldn't help but be filled with a sense of pride! I am so proud of the way we honor and respect the cultures, heritages and religions of all of our students at J.W. Reason. Being with members of the community who feel the same way that we do only reinforces our mission to be advocates for families and supports of our students who come to us from around the world.
Here is your staff update for May 25th.
I’ve learned a lot about myself over the past few weeks. I always forget how stressful the end of the school year can be for all of us. Many changes come our way quickly this time of year. In just the past week I have experienced several significant changes in the teams that I work with in Hilliard and I wasn’t expecting most of them.
Here’s what I know about change-it’s going to happen-we can’t stop it!
Here’s something else I know about change-change is what we make of it.
Over the past few weeks I have seen changes thrust upon many people. It’s fascinating to take a step back and recognize how each of these people have responded to the changes they are facing. Many of my amazing colleagues have taken the changes in stride, they’ve stepped up and accepted their new challenges with grace and professionalism. Some people, however, have had a harder time with change.
I had the opportunity to speak to Tim Kight last week and was reminded of the important work we have to do to help ourselves stay Above the Line so we can Step Up to the adversity that we will inevitably be faced with in our lives.
Tim reminded me that:
What I know is that it’s very easy to immediately go Below the Line what change happens. I am making an effort to Build Skill when it comes to responding to change.
Have you experienced a change recently? How have you responded? Are you BCDing in your classroom? Are you digging in your heals and making excuses?
Or, are you responding Above the Line? Have you acknowledged that you’re uncomfortable and begun to face your new challenge with intention, purpose and skill?
You have a choice about how you RESPOND to change.
I have a choice about how I RESPOND to change.
Here is an excerpt from the R Factor Handbook. I encourage you to read it and reflect on your response to adversity. If you are like me, you may find that you have some skill to build in this area and that’s okay because “every day is a battle for whether we CHOOSE to live Above or Below the Line”.
What do you choose today?
"It's not magic, it's work."
-Quote from the Disney Leadership Institute
Have you every walked into a classroom or gone to a conference and seen something so amazing that you feel like you could never do it in your own classroom?
I've been there.
I've seen what looks like magic in so many classrooms throughout my career. However, today I had the pleasure of spending an hour and a half with Tim Kight. We talked about what's next with R Factor. Most importantly, Tim shared that we may be starting to feel like we've "done" R Factor long enough or that we need to find a new way to implement it. But, he cautioned us about moving on too fast and reminded us of the importance of REPS!
We have to practice and practice and practice our R Factor skills! There are no shortcuts. Just like those magical looking classrooms, nothing great or magical actually happens without HARD WORK, without getting our reps in! Nothing just "happens" because we want it to. But, we CAN have magic in any area of our life as long as we are willing to do the work! We have to keep doing the work of R Factor. We have to continue to get our reps in. There are no shortcuts.
Here is your STAFF UPDATE for May 11th.
It’s safe to say that we’ve all been stressed these past few weeks. Some of our stress my have been created by our leaders (wink, wink); some of our stress may just be because of all of the deadlines we have to meet as we close out the school year; and some of it is also because it’s very easy to get so focused on making it to the finish line that we aren’t doing our best to live in the now. No matter what the cause of our stress is, the bottom line is that this time of year we often begin to focus on the things we can’t control. We lose perspective. We forget why we do what we do. We didn’t become teachers so we could have summers “off”. We didn’t become teachers because we want to make a lot of money or become famous. And, we most certainly didn’t become teachers so we could have a class full of students with the highest test scores. Yet, at this time of year we get bogged down by end of year assessments, the prospect of promotions or changing job titles, and trying to make it to the last day.
Today however I was hit with a dose of reality. I was reminded of my why. I was reminded of the reason why I’m an educator and the reason why it is my absolute honor to serve as the leader of this school. Today our staff quite possible saved some children’s lives. One of you noticed something about a child that just didn’t seem right. You spoke up. Other staff members supported you and in the end authorities became involved and as sad as I am about it, these children were taken from a potentially dangerous situation. This is what matters. The reason the children are safe tonight is because of the relationships we built with them throughout the school year. The reason they felt comfortable sharing the truth with us is because we provide a safe place for them every day.
When you get stressed and when you find yourself sweating the small stuff I want you to remember how lucky we are to have each other. I want you to remember that the safety and security we provide our students means more than any test score, job interview or deadline that needs to be met. Tonight I was able to put things back into perspective. I’m sad that it took a very serious situation to do that for me. But, I needed this reality check. We are so important in the lives of our students and that is what matters.
Here is our staff update for May 4th.
Lisa Sullivan always tells me “You have to slow down to go fast”. I think that as we move into the month of May, these words are very need to play over and over again in our heads. It’s easy for us to assume that because we have been in school for 150ish days that our kids will behave appropriately, follow routines and procedures and act above the line without reminder. But, I’m sure you all notice that often times, the month of May brings discipline issues and a lot of stress and frustration for teachers. So, I am asking you to “slow down”! Slow down and review routines and procedures. Try hard to keep your schedule as consistent as possible. Take time to praise and positively reinforce the students who are doing what they are supposed to do! As my friend Sharon Esswein says, “Celebrate what you want to see more of!” We can do this! We CAN make it to the finish line. But, in order to get there in one piece we will need to “slow down to go fast”!
Here is the staff update for April 27th!
This evening, I found myself scrolling through my past blog posts. As I read the titles and skimmed the posts, I found myself being taken back to exactly how I felt and what I was focusing on at that specific point in time.
I have written a lot of blog posts! One every week for the past two years, in fact, without missing a school week! In order to do this I've disciplined myself to think about events that occur in my life that teach me lessons or make me think. I keep notes in my phone about blog ideas and often compose the entire post in my head throughout the week. As I looked at my notes for this week I noticed that they were all about leadership-reflections on my own leadership; questions I've asked myself about whether propelling all of you into a state of panic about making changes was a terrible idea (totally not my intention at all by the way---I get excited by change and I am realizing that it causes others to stress out! I'm sorry); thoughts about how to grow new leaders; and even more questions about my own leadership.
As I continued to scroll through my old posts, I decided to look back at my posts from this time last year. I was very surprised by what I found! Last year, on April 20th, 2017, I wrote a blog called Leadership Lessons in which I shared what I'd learned in my journey as a leader. This made me pause for a few seconds as I stared to think about this time of year. This is the time of year that my leadership is most important. Our patience is wearing thin, we're stressed, we're tired, our kids are antsy, our parents are antsy, there is unknown change coming our way, we have testing, we're planning field trips and art shows and graduation ceremonies and field day and so much more... My leadership is crucial right now which must be why I reflect on it so deeply this time of year. The great thing about finding this pattern in my writing is that I know this time of year will indeed come to an end. Things will settle down and if my blog post pattern continues, we should be moving towards celebration and excitement very soon!
I urge you to reread my post called Leadership Lessons, especially if you're hoping for a leadership role in years to come but also because you are all leaders in this building. And, I'd like to add a few more lesson in this 2nd Volume.
12. Leaders are humble-Leaders don't advertise how great they are. They don't boast about all the things they know. Leaders do the work and do so while remaining humble.
13. Leaders are patient (I need to work on this one)-Leaders know when to move quickly and know when to wait. Leaders understand that some people need time to process and others can make decisions quickly.
14. Leaders know their faults-Leaders are honest with themselves about who they are. Leaders are aware of their faults and work to build skill to become the best version of themselves.
15. Leaders seek out mentors who they can learn from-Leaders never stop learning. They search for those who inspire them and who are doing new and innovative things. Leaders are learners and seek out mentors.
16. Leaders ask questions-Leaders know what questions to ask to push the thinking of others. Leaders ask questions of themselves and reflect on their leadership.
17. Leaders don't take themselves too seriously-Leaders know how to have fun. They enjoy their time with the amazing people they work with every day.
What skills do you need to work on as a leader? What would you add to the list?
Here is your staff update for April 20th.
“When you’re through changing, you’re through.” –Neil Pasricha, The Happiness Equation
Currently I am reading The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha. I have read and reread the section called “When you’re through changing, you’re through”. This part of the book speaks to me and it causes me to reflect on all of the changes I’ve made throughout my career and how without those changes I wouldn’t be where I am today. I’ve reflected on how without those changes I wouldn’t have made the mistakes along the way that have taught me so much. And, how without those changes I wouldn’t have become the principal as J.W. Reason.
I’m not sure if you know this, but I didn’t want to be a principal. I didn’t apply for the job at J.W. I didn’t even have my principal license when I was hired to be the principal here. In fact, I didn’t interview for the job. I sat in Dale McVey’s office and told him all of the reasons why he was crazy to even consider me for such a position. Well, for those of you who know Dale, you know that he is not easily swayed. Dale’s mind was made up and I was going to become the principal a J.W. Reason without a license and with four little kids including 15 month old twins.
Six years as the principal of J.W. have flown by. I am forever grateful to Dale for being the catalyst for change for me. I often times find myself thinking about all of the learning I would have missed out on if Dale had listened to all of the reasons why I thought I wasn’t ready.
Now, you may be wondering why I’m telling you this story. It’s not because I’m leaving. Instead, I’m telling you this because I want you to know that it is time for many of you to change. There are many of you who have been in the same position for many, many years. And, you are REALLY great at what you do. But, “when you’re through changing, you’re through” and I know that you are not through learning. You are not finished taking risks, making mistakes and feeling uncomfortable. It is my job to keep us all fresh and to push us all to our edges. So, in the coming weeks I will be asking you to have conversations with me about what changes might stretch you and keep you growing. Will everyone move around to new positions and grade levels? NO! But, I am going to help a lot of you try something new.
If you have a desire to change grade levels or positions, please let me know. If you don’t want to, well, that’s okay but I want you to remember the story of my “principal interview” with Dale. Sometimes we all need a nudge.
Here is your staff update for April 13th!
Sometimes I catch myself being annoyed with the mundane parts of my life. Packing lunches, making dinner, doing laundry, checking email, doing lunch duty-I have caught myself thinking how tired I am of doing these things. Then it was like life gave me a wake up call while, for the past week, I have been in bed. Pneumonia was no joke and it left me shivering, coughing and wrapped up in blankets for nearly a week.
As I spent hours and days doing absolute nothing, I had plenty of time to think. What I realized was that I take the every day duties of life for granted. As I lay there in my bedroom I actually longed for the opportunity to go to the grocery store or even clean a bathroom! Being sick reminded me of how much I take for granted. It helped me refocus and remember what it really means to find JOY in the little things.
Tonight as I made dinner, for the first time in a long time, I actually enjoyed cooking for my family. I was even happy to clean up the dishes without feeling sick and achy.
Health is a gift. The duties of every day life are a gift. Remember to appreciate that you get to live your life each day and complete the little tasks that keep us moving through our days.
Here is your staff update for April 6th! CAN YOU BELIEVE IT'S APRIL 6th?!?!
I think it's safe to say that we have all learned so much with the addition of World Language to our curriculum! I was so honored to be selected as part of the selection committee for next year's TCLP Arabic teachers. I traveled with two other people from the US to join an interview team made up of employees from the US Embassy in Egypt and the Ministry of Education in Egypt. We spent three days interviewing 46 candidates for TCLP. The interviews were fascinating and opened my eyes to a completely different culture. At the end of the three days we selected 10 candidates and a few alternates! I am still anxiously awaiting an email from the American Councils regarding whether or not we have been selected to host another exchange teacher. I will let you know as soon as I find out!
Here are a few pictures from my trip. I visited the Pyramids of Giza (and even went inside one), the Sphinx, rode a camel, went to the Egyptian Museum which was amazing, ate stuffed pigeon, did a lot of shopping, ate Koshari, drank sugarcane juice, rode the subway, took a boat ride on the Nile at Night, visited Cairo Tower and the Citadel. It was fantastic! I learned some Arabic too!
Here is your staff update for March 29th. Enjoy your long weekend.