I was blessed to be raised by parents who taught my brother and I to challenge, to question, not to accept the status quo.

20 years ago, I was fortunate to be the Superintendent of Schools in Center, Colorado.  Center is located in the San Luis Valley, not an area known for economic prosperity.  Our socio-economic profile would challenge many districts.  But it was our normal.  The staff there was not unlike most, they didn’t show up for a paycheck, they wanted to work for a movement.  They wanted to know that what they did mattered.  And we all realized that if we continued to run our schools the way they had always been run, our students would not be in a position to realize their dreams.  It was time to color outside the lines, and change the rules.  We recognized a sense of urgency.  As Dr. King preached, there is such a thing as being too late.  We recognized the fact that for our students, tomorrow is today.  We were confronted with the fierce urgency of now.  It was time to move from indecision to action.

We created a model we called the Student Centered School in 1992.  This project shifted the structure of our schools from the Student:

As recipient of education to Student as self directed, independent lifelong learner;

As recipient of teaching services to Student as provider of teaching services;

As consumer of educational materials, to Student as producer of educational materials; and

Children have always been explorers, born with the ability to interact and learn about the world around them.  They live in a world which is increasingly interactive, communications intensive, and knowledge based.

The concept of education is being redefined by a world we can barely imagine.  Everything we have known as reality is going to be challenged or changed, yet our challenges are undefined.  What is going to happen by the time our current generation of students leaves our high schools?  We have both the responsibility and the obligation to let go of our in order to embrace their futures.  Put simply, our attitudes determine the ways we think; how we think determines our actions.

This is not for the faint of heart, nor for those who work for a check, not for a movement.  A question I ask daily, “How big is your brave today?”  Are you willing to challenge, to improve, to do at least one thing outside of your comfort zone?

The final Blessing at my church this past Sunday spoke volumes.

“May God Bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done.”


Where is our balance

I start each morning with a daily devotional.  One morning last week, the theme was the importance of balance in our lives.  “There are people who get out of balance in everything: from not sleeping, to sleeping too much; from not cleaning their house, to trying to keep it so clean that nobody can move in it.  Find balance; balance keeps your day going right.”

I make an honest effort every day to balance my school life with my life outside of school.  I hope to never become one of those people who define who they are by what they do.  I try to live each day as the late Jim Valvano taught us, “…there are three things we should all do every day.  We should do this every day of our lives.  Number one is laugh.  You should laugh every day.  Number two is think.  You should spend some time in thought.  And number threee is, you should have your emotions moved to tears, could be of happiness or joy.  But think about it.  If you laugh, you think, and you cry, that’s a full day.  That’s a heck of a day.  You do that seven days a week, you’re going to have something special.”

When I look at the time my students spend in school each day, I have to think about their balance.  Do they get the chance to laugh, to think, and be moved emotionally?  Do they wake up each morning wondering about the day ahead?  Or do they wake up knowing it will be another You Tube, another powerpoint, another worksheet, just like yesterday, and just like tomorrow?

They come into the building each morning filled with wonder, hopes, and dreams.  Will they have the chance to create, to connect, and to collaborate?  Will they have the chance to craft the questions?  Will they get to discover answers, or will they spend too much time regurgitating answers already known?  Will we be so focused on their academic growth, that we neglect their their social needs?  Where is the balance in thier day with us?

It is my hope that most will leave each day knowing not that they are wanted at school.  But that they are needed.  And that they matter.

Slow Me Down, Lord

This is the first post.  I will update this site somewhat frequently, as I end each day by reflecting on life as an asst middle school principal.  I have had a fantastic 35+ year run in public education as a teacher and administrator, having met and worked with some truly amazing people in some very high, and some not so very high, achieving schools and school districts.
I first saw the poem below in my graduate program at Ft. Hays State University under the direction of Dr. Ed Stehno, a giant among educators.  I think of it often as I drive to and from school.
I hope you enjoy my reflections, and the occasional rant.
“Slow me down, Lord, I am going too fast.
I can’t see my brother as he goes past;
I miss a lot of good things day by day.
I don’t know blessings when they come my way.
Slow me down, Lord, so I can see
More of the things that are good for me;
A little less of me, a mite more of you,
Let Heavenly atomosphere trickle thru,
Let me help a brother when the going’s rough
When folks work together, things aren’t so tough;
Slow me down, Lord, so that I can talk
with more of your angels…slow me down to a walk.”