The Best School Day of the Year.


Snow Days are Fun.  At Least More Fun Than Work.There are several days during the school year that can be considered exciting and important, but one definitely tops them all.

The first day of school, homecoming, Thanksgiving break, open house, parent-teacher conferences, Christmas break, field trips, guest speakers, end of the year picnics, and graduation should all get consideration as the best day of the school year.

Students would probably add birthday parties and that most sacred of days; the one where they walk into class and who is standing there… none other than a substitute teacher.

They usually like their regular teacher, but it is a special feeling when they walk into the classroom and see a sub (it can only be compared to watching the birth of your first child).

The difference between a regular classroom teacher and a substitute is quite similar to the difference between like and love.

But these examples of great days pale in comparison to what can easily be considered the grandest day of the school year.

The SNOW DAY. A day so special that it must be typed in all caps (twice…SNOW DAY… there are more to come).

If you live in the part of the country (or with our new friends in Canada) that gets to experience the SNOW DAY, you should consider yourself an extremely lucky student, teacher, staff member, or administrator.

But if you live in part of the country that is well prepared for 14 inches of snow each winter day, or even worse, in a part that doesn’t get any snow- I pity you.

Unfortunately, if you are a parent you may not be the biggest fan of the SNOW DAY. In fact, you may want to put this blog in the “I hate the cold, the snow, and I can’t believe my children aren’t going to school today” file.

In my humble estimation, the SNOW DAY is a beautiful thing and should be treated with admiration and the respect we usually reserve for Kings, Mother Teresa, Oprah (for the ladies), Elvis, Kramer from Seinfeld, Ferris Bueller, and Bob Barker.

As an angry middle-aged administrator, I can never admit my true love for the SNOW DAY when I am out in public. I can’t show any emotion that may allow the students and staff to think that I am a regular human being with feelings, hopes, or dreams.

Because of this, I take the party line when students ask about the SNOW DAY.

My patented answers if I am asked about the SNOW DAY or getting out of school early because of inclement weather includes the following:

“No, we are not getting out early. Nine inches of snow is not that big of a deal.”

“We don’t want to get out early or have a SNOW DAY because we need to prepare for state testing.”

“I would rather go to school today than use a SNOW DAY. I don’t want to add another day to the end of the year when it will be 87 degrees and sunny.”

“If we get snowed in here at school for the next 48 hours, that is just an opportunity for more learning to take place.”

In reality, there is nothing better than getting that phone call at 6:00 a.m. that tells you, “Don’t come into work today, there is too much snow on the roads and it isn’t safe. Stay in your house and watch Regis and Kelly (mainly Kelly… that is for the gentleman).”

This special day doesn’t happen to doctors, lawyers, or members of the military.

The SNOW DAY is purely an educational thing. How sweet it is.

Actually, the only thing better than getting the call is making the call.

If someone had told me as a 12 year old junior high boy that I would one day grow up and be in charge of cancelling school because of bad weather, I wouldn’t have believed it.

The power. The prestige. The power. Did I mention the power.

It makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck just thinking about it. The ability to cancel school and let an entire school district of students and staff sleep in… what an honor it is (I can assure that while power hungry, I am respectful of this ability and try not to abuse it).

Who wants to be an engineer, or the President (although I was, briefly, with an elementary class), or professional athlete, or even the Pope (although I wouldn’t mind being Regis… other than the fact that he is 102 years old… actually Kelly’s husband might be better)?

Sure these professions and people make more money, but they aren’t the caretaker of the Emergency Phone Tree.

A single call sets the Phone Tree into action. And once it is started there is no going back.

School is cancelled.

As a professional educator, I should be disappointed in the fact that a day of learning is lost… but I am not.

What an honor and privilege it is to be a school administrator when the weatherman says, “Looks like we could get quite a storm tonight, please tune in to the Early News to see if there are any school cancellations.”

Who says the dreams of a 12 year-old boy don’t come true?

I am going back to bed. School is called off. Thanks SNOW DAY.

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Take My Advice; If a Coach Throws a Basketball at Your Head, Duck.


Duck!!!I was reminded this week of an incident that happened to me when I was attempting to play high school basketball (attempting is the key word to focus on here).

This story usually pops into my head when adults say, “Kids sure have changed since we were in school.”

I have my answer to that, but first you have to sit through my sad little story.

During my high school basketball career (brief mind you, based on playing time), I was every coach’s dream. A complete player. In my mind, I had all the tools to be great.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t dribble, pass, shoot and I was slow, couldn’t jump, and certainly didn’t rebound. I tried rebounding once. Didn’t like it, so I chose to focus on other aspects of the game at which I was equally as bad.

In my defense, I was always on time for practice and games. I don’t mean to brag, but I was even early on several occasions.

Although as I look back, the coach was probably hoping that I would be late or better yet, not show up at all.

One day in practice, I was playing point guard (playing is probably too strong of a word). Coach told me to run a play and I did my best.

Turns out Coach wasn’t looking for “my best”, he was actually hoping that I could run the play correctly.

He stood underneath the basket holding a ball on his hip. I believe he was wearing those really short gray coaching shorts with the big elastic waistband. Cool at the time, but disturbing today.

As I recall the sequence of events went something like this; Coach calls the play, I run the play incorrectly, Coach yells “Dammit”, I turn my back to him, he wings the basketball at my head trying to knock some sense and hopefully some talent into me.

That is a lot of information in one paragraph, so let’s break down the details.

For years I thought my first name was “Dammit”. I say this because when Coach yelled, that word always preceded my last name.

I never even thought about it at the time, and I certainly never ran home and told my parents. Wouldn’t want Coach any madder than he usually was at me (my advice to kids…you never poke the angry bear with a stick).

Well on that particular day, I decided to take a stand. In retrospect, not the best idea I ever had. I probably wasn’t thinking straight; no doubt from the blow to the head from a basketball zooming at me at 112 miles per hour.

But in the infinite wisdom of a teenager, it seemed like a good idea at the time.

Surely, Coach would stop me and apologize. Nope.

Evidently, he also picked that particular day to take a stand. And his stand was “don’t let the door hit you in the behind on the way out of the gym.”

I found myself out in the parking lot in my practice clothes. No choice but to walk home and get some sympathy from the parents.

Another in an unfortunate series of bad ideas.

As I made my way to the house, my dad was mowing the yard. My gut feeling was my day was just about to get worse.

And for the first time on that day, I was right.

He stopped the mower (I later learned that dads don’t like to stop the mower… I wish I had known that little nugget of information before I left practice).

To make a long story short, he wanted to know why I was home. I attempted to tell my sad story about Coach, the blow to the head, and then I was going to ask if my legal name on the birth certificate was “Dammit.”

Turns out he not only didn’t he like stopping the mower, but he didn’t care for the story either. In fact, he didn’t even let me finish.

He cut me off about halfway through and said, “I don’t care what happened, go back to practice and apologize to Coach and see if he will take you back.”

Not exactly the response I was looking for.

There is nothing sadder then a teenage boy schlepping home from quitting practice, except that same boy crawling back to practice 15 minutes later.

I went back. Coach shook his head in disgust (which really didn’t bother me because I had seen that look about 1,216 times before).

I don’t remember exactly what he said but it was something like, “Dammit, you can’t even quit right. Get back in here.”

That was it. I don’t think it was ever spoken about again; at home or with Coach.

No lawyers, no meeting with the Principal, no phone call to the Superintendent, and no special School Board Meeting.

What Coach did wasn’t right, but I was no worse for the wear. I grew up in a world where teachers and coaches were to be respected and sometimes a little feared.

I learned a lot that day that continues to apply to my life.

Run the play right, don’t turn your back; excuses are just that… excuses, dad’s don’t like to be interrupted when mowing, and most of all if someone throws a ball at your head… duck.

So I don’t think kids have changed. Parents have.

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NCLB. Don’t Tell Me the Problem, I Need the Solution.


I want to go on record as saying (or typing) that No Child Left Behind may not be the evil monster it is portrayed to be.

Do I like all aspects of the law? No.

Do I think it is a daily aggravation hanging over educator’s heads? Yes.

Does it carry any real weight? I don’t think anyone knows as of yet.NCLB Isn't All Bad.

Do I completely understand all of the details of the law? Probably not (but I am no more confused by it then I am; marriage, car engines, health insurance, how microwaves work, or why humans find reality shows on VH1 interesting).

What I do understand is that every profession needs rules and guidelines to encourage employees to do their best.

Without expectations it becomes easy to do an adequate job, but not a great one. When it comes to students, I think we can all agree that no one wants to settle for adequate, when great is always possible.

Everyone in education (and outside of education) understandably works harder when they are pushed to achieve more than they think possible.

It is human nature for people to rise or fall to the level of expectations. Some people are self motivated enough not to need the occasional push, but most of us are not.

When I was a kid, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I did a better job mowing the yard when I knew my dad would check on my work when I finished. I am not sure how much effort I would have put into the yard work if I knew there weren’t going to be consequences when I was done.

America is a results-based country. Athletic contests are based on who scores the most points (one reason we hate soccer… not enough points). Salespeople get paid bonuses for production. Politicians are elected by the most votes (sorry Mr. Gore, I know it still hurts). And as educators we give out grades every day.

Meeting goals and being evaluated is our way of life. Those who produce, get rewarded, and those who don’t, get passed by.

In a sentence, NCLB basically says schools have to improve themselves, or the government will come in and do it for them (technically, if it was that easy wouldn’t the government just improve them from the start?).

I understand that educators don’t want to be mandated standards that they feel are unreachable. This also makes sense to me, but yet I have never heard a counter proposal on how schools and teachers should be judged (Technically, if fixing NCLB/schools was that easy wouldn’t educators come up with adjustments to fix them, or have a plan to entirely overhaul the present system?).

Lots of people are good at pointing out problems, but it is so much harder to come up with a solution.

I try to understand the high expectations NCLB is placing on us. As a citizen, I certainly want and expect the highest (even unreachable) standards for other professions such as; airplane mechanics, construction workers, surgeons, firefighters, and fast food cooks.

You may be asking yourself, “Why did he mention fast food cooks?” Use your head people.

Administrators are Enemy #1 for high school kids as you pick up your food at the drive thru window (mental note; do not purchase fast food within 18 miles of your office desk … it is not worth the risk).

We need the highest standards possible for these angry 17 year olds working at Taco Bell (and constant video surveillance if possible).

But back to the expectations of NCLB.

Every occupation needs laws and regulations to govern them. In education we may feel overwhelmed by the federal law hanging over our heads, but I am sure Doug Heffernan had rules at IPS that he didn’t agree with (Google alert).

My point is NCLB is not the greatest law I have ever seen, but education does need rules and guidelines to follow so that all teachers and administrators work to their fullest potential, so students can reach theirs.

The only question I have left is with the War in Iraq, a possible recession, a mortgage crisis, immigration issues, terrorism, and gas prices skyrocketing… who takes over for President Bush if he doesn’t meet or exceed?

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Goodbye Old Friend. I Would Call You if I Could.


I am taking my own advice and moving forward with technology. It was time to take a big step forward instead of sticking with what was comfortable.

In these situations, often times a sacrifice has to be made, so today I tossed out one of my oldest friends, my appointment book.

It has served me well for the last 5 years. It is almost as old as the unemployed child who lives in my house. Now that I think about it, I got more work out of the book than I get out of her. Maybe I should have kept the book.My New Favorite Toy.

It has done everything that I could have asked. It has kept me organized and on time for meetings, games, and other school events (well usually… sometimes I get lost on the way, but I don’t think I can blame the book).

But things are changing.

Last night, we purchased my first Smart Phone. I say we, because while the phone is for me to use, my wife will have to be on constant standby to address any technology issues.

For those of you thinking what’s a Smart Phone? Well, it is a cell phone, PDA, camera, and 914 other gadgets that I will never use.

One of the worlds’ great mysteries to me is why we all need a camera on our cell phones. Are people talking, then suddenly stop and take pictures, then go back to talking?

This journey into the world of Smart Phones started because my wife needed a new cell phone (the Queen of Technology has never had a new cell phone, go figure).

She has owned the same cell phone for the last 32 years. It was evidently placed in her crib when she first came home from the hospital.

It had gotten to the point where it would only hold a battery charge for about 45 seconds. To get reception, you had to actually climb about 120 feet up a cell phone tower (and hold your head at just the right angle).

If you were lucky and the wind was blowing just the right direction, you might be able to talk to someone.

If the phone rang, she was never sure whether it was for her or one of our neighbors down the road (that is a party line joke and if you need it explained, ask your grandparents).

This phone predates the bag phones by about 15 years (ask Grandpa about bag phones).

It is the only cell phone that still used a rotary dial. Sadly, as I write this it occurs to me that anyone under the age of 25 doesn’t get the rotary dial reference (again, call grandpa… or text if he is really cool).

I knew the phone was old, but to see the look on the salesman’s face at the store when she handed it to him was priceless.

Plus, it was a special bonus in seeing his excitement as he skipped around the store showing other employees. It was like he had just discovered an expensive antique in his grandmother’s attic.

Anyways, this 12 year old salesman helped us purchase our new phones. He reminded me of Doogie Howser, but younger.

This kid has less education than me and is a third of my age, yet he has forgotten more about technology than I will ever know.

And that is the challenge we all face in education world.

How do we keep up with technology and more importantly, how do we keep up with kids who have a base of knowledge that we will never have.

I don’t have the answer. Maybe I should call Doogie at the Verizon Store.

Or better yet, I will just drop by tomorrow and see if he can show me how to turn my new Smart Phone on.

And yes, I will take a picture of him.

The new phone just rang. I wish I knew if it was a call, a text, an alarm, or a reminder that I am late to a meeting.

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Writing Checks in a Debit Card World Means You’re in My Way.


Checks are Cool.  20 years ago.Some of my blogs are educationally oriented. Some are simply idiotic theories that pass through my mind. Some are rants that allow me to release my anger before I do something foolish.

This one’s a rant.

Today I spent 7 hours at a store waiting in line to pay for liquid soap and paper towels.

Actually I am being dramatic; it wasn’t 7 hours, more like 6 hours and 57 minutes and 14 seconds.

The reason for my lengthy wait for cleaning/drying products?

The lady (and I use that term loosely) in the front of the line had to write 3 checks. I am not sure why she traveled forward in time to bother me on this particular morning, but she did.

She came straight from 1974 to jump right in front of me. “Her Slowness” decided to split her purchases into; business products, personal products for her, and personal products for her equally as slow sidekick (husband).

These two were obviously going out of their way to bring the progress of the checkout line to a complete halt. And I must admit they were quite successful.

“Her Slowness” accomplished this by taking her sweet time in writing 3 checks. I guess she didn’t notice me staring at her, or my new 14 friends (nothing brings people together like a common enemy) in line behind us doing the same.

As I stood in line, annoyed, I realized three things:

1.) This couple must be unbelievably organized to separate their purchases into 3 groups.
2.) Her penmanship must be extraordinary because of the time she puts into every letter.
3.) My attention span/patience is getting shorter by the day.

On my way home, I thought maybe I could turn a bad situation into something positive.

So, I have decided to share my first financial tip of the New Year; it is 2008 people, lose the checkbook and get a debit card.

Times are changing, so get on board or move out of the way. Especially if you are in line in front of me.

I think the world is at a place in time where tough decisions have to be made.

The question we must face; will we embrace advances in technology, or are we going to hang back with the past and get left behind?

It is a question as old as time: arrows vs. bullets, horses vs. cars, old people vs. Elvis, communism vs. democracy, typewriters vs. computers, and now checks vs. debit cards.

Checks are going to be hard to find in ten years, so join me in using those debit cards. Mainly because I don’t like to wait in line behind you (you know who you are).

They say the older you get the harder it becomes to embrace change.

I think this is true and it seems to happen all too often in education.

Just last week, I had a teacher (not one of mine) tell me that she was too old to change and learn about technology. Besides she would be retiring in only 9 short years.

I wonder if a student came to her class and said, “I am too old to learn subtraction. I am 7 years old and will be retiring in 58 years. Why should I go to the trouble of learning something new?”

Why don’t people like new things? Invariably, technology makes our lives easier and as we gain perspective and look back on the old ways; who wants to use arrows, drive a horse, listen to big band music, live in a communistic country, use that white corrective tape when you make a mistake using a typewriter, and most importantly waste my time writing checks.

So for the good of society and my mental health (and maybe your safety), get a debit card.

People have to realize that you can’t get stuck in the past. Life moves too fast.

I think I will go watch the Andy Griffith marathon. Barney always cheers me up.

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School Buses and Principals. Let the Good Times Roll.


Shouldn't Busses Keep Both Wheels on the Ground?Someone out there has a sense of humor. You may ask yourself, how can I be so sure? Easy.

There are certain things in life that are a constant annoyance. Examples include but are not limited to: wacky weathermen and sportscasters, dial-up internet, scary cab drivers, fast food workers who mess up drive-thru orders, and people who wear blue tooth earpieces (how can these people be so busy that they don’t have the time to lift their cell phone up to their ear).

On top of these daily hassles, the spiritual being in charge (fill in your religious beliefs, or not- here) gave principals a special challenge.
In his (or her) wisdom, he (or she) has given us buses.

At first glance, buses are a wonderful idea. On the outside, they are just big happy yellow vehicles. Little kids grow up dreaming of the day when they can ride the bus to school.

When a preschooler watches videos (whoops….I just dated myself), there is always an exciting cartoon bus with wonderful smiling children looking out the windows. These buses are usually being driven by a very kind driver (and he usually has a mustache… I have no idea why).

These cheerful students aren’t throwing anything, getting out of their seat, putting the windows down too far, or using inappropriate language.

Buses were invented to provide safe and affordable transportation for school-aged children to get to and from school.

But as new school administrators learn in a hurry, there is always (and I mean always) two sides to every story. And buses are no exception.

When one delves a little deeper into the concept of buses, you begin to realize that whoever invented them either disliked principals immensely, or at the very least was having a really bad day. Or more likely, both.

When a teacher is looking for that first job as principal, they find out that the majority of interview questions deal with curriculum, evaluations, goals, staff morale, and discipline.

The discipline questions are a little misleading, because future principals usually assume they are about situations involving shoving, fighting, or disrespect towards staff members.

As candidates go through the interview process, buses are the furthest thing from a new principal’s mind.

If things go well in the interview, the district makes the candidate an offer to become their next principal. This is a very exciting career moment and the poor naïve candidate still has no idea of what awaits them.

They only have thoughts of more money, a big office, and most importantly, the idea of no longer having to babysit a junior high study hall.

The brand new baby-faced principal starts the new job excited and eager to have a positive impact on students and the school. But much to their surprise, the fun is just about to begin.

By fun, I mean buses. Actually, I don’t mean fun. The word I was searching for was… nightmare. That’s it. Nightmare.

If a principal is hired for $60,000, the financial breakdown is as follows: they are paid $59,981 for taking care of bus troubles and $19 for everything else.

Sounds like a good deal, but the truth is bus troubles are worth more than a measly $59,981. And $19 dollars certainly doesn’t cover everything else.

You may be thinking; how much trouble can buses really be?

It is obvious to me that if you are asking yourself that question; you are not an administrator, or you are a massive goofball who has taken an enormous blow to the head (possibly breaking up a fight on… I dunno… maybe a BUS!)

So there you have it. Buses were put on the earth not to transport children, but as a sick joke on school administrators.

Buses are a daily (actually twice a day…plus field trips and extracurricular activities) source of pain, heartache, suffering, and bloodshed.

And that’s just from the principal.

Starting your day with bus troubles is the worst possible thing that can happen to a principal.

Actually that isn’t completely true. Something worse could have happened the night before when the principal was supervising an athletic event.

But that’s another story (or blog).

If someone needs 842 Barney videos that include storylines about sweet children, buses, and kind (by kind, I mean creepy… I think it is the mustaches or it could be the talking dinosaur) bus drivers, please email me.

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Sleep is a Mysterious and Complicated Mistress.


I Should Sleep So Well.The funny thing about sleep (or not, as always you get to decide) is that while it is very important in keeping a person productive, it is also a colossal waste of time.

While most would agree about it being a waste of time (we sleep about 1/3 of our lives- Google it), it is as important as any human activity; including the consumption of food and water.

Just so you don’t think you’re wasting more of your life reading this blog, I would like to provide you with some extra knowledge. Over the course of our lives we drink about 16,000 gallons of water and by the age of 60 we lose about half of our taste buds.

These 2 fun facts tell us three things; one, I know a lot of worthless junk that is in no way helpful to society and in fact only clogs up my brain. Sadly, this doesn’t allow me to remember more important items such as the date of my wedding anniversary or what I said out loud 11 minutes ago (seriously, I can’t remember if I said something or I just heard a voice in my head, but I think I have mentioned this before… or not, I can’t remember).

Secondly, the water thing also explains why as I get older I have to use the restroom 212 times a day. Lastly, it’s no wonder I like broccoli more and more as time passes (sorry, people who make their money from selling broccoli… please don’t email).

Lots of people love sleeping, but wish they could get by with less or even better; no sleep at all.

I must admit that I am one of those people.

I have been wondering how much more productive I could be if I didn’t have to go to sleep. There are so many things that I could accomplish; like watching more TV (like Talk Soup… now that guy is funny), reading the classics (or more newspapers), and exercising less (okay, bad example).

Sleep is a huge time killer and an annoying interruption in the day. However, I love it.

I hate to admit it but, the highlight for me on most days is going to sleep.

I find nothing better than going through an average day, accomplishing a tenth of what I need to, and then wrapping it all up by going to sleep.

Sometimes, I think the one thing that is even better than a good night’s sleep is a 20 minute nap in the Mancave.

For those of you unfamiliar with the definition of Mancave, congratulations you have just stumbled upon another learning opportunity.

A Mancave is a basement (preferably, but family room or garage will do) that is cold, isolated, and has a big TV (no Oprah… ever) while also having a recliner or couch.

Bonus points for a refrigerator and bathroom nearby (that 16,000 gallons has to go somewhere). And most importantly, no girls allowed ever, unless they have an invitation (exceptions for people who are related to me or delivering pizza).

So there you have it, I have a somewhat perplexing love/hate relationship with sleep. I need it and would like to cut back, but I think I am hooked. That is why it is such a mysterious and complicated mistress.

While we are talking about sleep, I wish I could bottle the feeling that you get on workdays, where you wake up and it feels like you could stay in bed forever. Why is it that

I don’t get that same feeling on weekends or school holidays when I can lay there as long as I want?

I guess the moral to the story (or blog) is sleep is simply a necessary evil.

On the positive side, there is nothing better than falling asleep watching Mike Rowe.

Since I have admitted having this complicated mistress, should I be worried about my wife running away with Mr. Dreams?

She does love sleeping and now that I think about it, she sure does talk about him a lot…

By the way, I hope you didn’t Google the fact that we sleep 1/3 of our lives… do the math… 8 hours a day… 24 hours in day…. that is 33%… come on, you’re better than that. Obviously, this blog isn’t big in the math department.

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What Makes a Good Principal and Other Questions That Confuses Me.


Why Do They Have a Lock on the Front Door?Lately, I have been thinking about what it takes to be a successful school administrator.

I have decided to focus on this difficult question, because so many other things continue to confuse me. Such as…

Why do all Steak n Shake restaurants have locks on their front doors?
Does Donald Trump’s barber brag about having him as a client?
Is there a reason they put holes in crackers?
Why do televisions start with channel 2?
Shouldn’t psychics win the lottery at least once a year?
Why isn’t the caps lock key on my keyboard in ALL CAPS?
Why do overalls have belt loops?
Why does the 0 on my cell phone come after 9 and not before the 1?
What do cows drink, so they can have strong bones?
Is sign language the same, no matter what language you speak?
Why do they call the small candy bars the “fun sizes”? Aren’t the bigger ones more fun?
And why do people say “The alarm just went off” when really it just came on?

As you can tell, it is exhausting being me. Sure, I think of these things, but when I see them in writing (I know… technically typing… please save your email), it occurs to me that I have a lot of free time and I may need some (more) intensive counseling.

But, back to the original question. Why are some people successful in school administration and others are not?

I haven’t been in the business of school administration that long, yet I have seen a lot of people come and go in a very short time.

We all get the same basic college degree in administration. We all come from the same background as a teacher or coach. We all read the same books and administration magazines, go to the same workshops, and attend the same conferences.

Most of us have had formal mentoring or at least someone we could count on to show us the tricks of the job and point out the landmines to avoid.

Is it possible that the college curriculum used in training administrators isn’t enough to prepare principals for the job?

On the other end of the spectrum, is it possible that no training at all is needed? Are some people just born with the skill (and lots of good luck) of being an administrator?

After a lot of deep thought (even I can only think about cows drinking milk for so long), I say yes, or at least maybe.

College classes and professors are great, but they can’t give us all the answers and prepare us for everything. Mainly because no one knows all of the questions or situations that a principal may face on the job.

The good news is being a principal means you’re never bored.

I think the most challenging part of the job is dealing and working with people, which is a terribly hard skill to learn out of a textbook.

No one can teach or mentor a person how to stop an argument, get a student to be 100% honest (87% maybe), organize your thoughts (and desk in some cases), keep junior high boys from doing something foolish (good luck), or get a gym full of students to be quiet by just giving them a look.

In fact, most things about being a principal are learned “on the job.” I can remember numerous times when college professors would say, “Don’t worry about that, you will learn it on the job.”

Maybe there is a better way for our school systems to train future and new administrators.

No books, or presentations, or research papers… just a simple test that could be given to teachers or coaches to see if they have the right makeup for the principal’s job.

Maybe I could make my next (actually, first) fortune in creating a test that would identify candidates with common sense, organization, computer skills, sense of humor, credibility, trustworthiness, visibility, leadership, credibility, ability to model good behavior, work ethic, a knack for choosing the right job, and most of all luck.

If I can just focus and not get distracted long enough to make up the test… oh, never mind…

… Why do teachers give A, B, C, D, and F grades? What happened to the E?

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Better Student Council President- Clinton, Edwards, or Obama?


President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton, and the Guy That Blew His Career.I have spent the last week watching the coverage of the Presidential Primaries (in writing this sentence it just occurred to me that I need more hobbies).

I have touched on this subject before, and I still think we might be better off electing a 4th Grade Teacher President (or not, it was just a thought).

In watching and listening to the candidates, especially the Democrats, I realize that our presidential elections aren’t vastly different from how a student body in a school elects a Student Council President.

Both are based on first impressions, likability, and who is most popular.

You may be (or not) asking yourselves, “Why isn’t he discussing the Republicans?”

Simple, the last time I counted there were 301,139,947 people in the United States (for those who continue to not trust me, Google it). Out of all the people in America, the best candidate the Republicans can come up with is named Huckabee?

How are other countries supposed to take us seriously if we are led by a President Huckabee? It sounds like a grocery store (stop by your local Huckabee’s… big sale on Cantaloupe, Double AA batteries, and 12 packs of Sierra Mist this weekend).

I am sure he is an intelligent, well-intentioned, nice man, but he reminds me a little bit of Huckleberry Hound (in looks and in name).

Back to the Democrats, I guess there are 3 that have a chance to win.

John Edwards, the candidate who reminds me of the rich, smart, athletic kid in school. Nice enough guy, but just because you say you’re “just one of the guys” doesn’t make it so. If you drive a Mercedes to school, I have a hard time relating to you as I park my 1975 four-door light blue Mercury Monarch (best car I ever bought for $1200).

Why is it that millionaire-politicians (usually lawyers) think they can take off their suit jackets and roll up the sleeves of their $300 dress shirts and they become “just one of the guys” down at the Big Tom’s Sandusky Auto Plant (Google it)?

Edwards would get a lot of votes in a Student Council election; at least until someone more popular and better looking decides to run. Sometimes in life and school, it is not how good, smart, or athletic you are; but how good, smart, or athletic the other students are in your class.

Then you have Hillary Clinton. I am sure that she is well-intentioned, incredibly smart, and very ambitious. But, she seems like the mean girl.

In high school, I might have just voted for her out of fear. Don’t want to cross the Clinton girl; if she doesn’t get your vote, she could give you a look in the hallway that could make a grown man cry.

And lastly, the Democrats have Barack Obama. You can make the case that his name is weirder than Huckabee’s. But in life and high school, sometimes the more different you are; the cooler you become (this is why the new kid who moves into the district is generally really popular; at least for their first week in school).

Obama is everything a Student Council President needs to be so they can become elected; athletic, charming, well spoken, and nice to all the different groups of kids. Teachers and coaches would love him.

I really have no idea where all 3 stand on issues. I am sure like most politicians they are for old people, health care, education, lower gas and razor blade prices, and protecting our country without putting young soldiers at risk (but I always think… aren’t we all?).

So, there is my argument that getting elected Student Council President and President of the United States takes exactly the same qualities.

I have no idea who will win, or whom will receive my vote.

But, as of right now, I am pulling for the smart, nerd kid Dennis Kucinich. It is about time someone who isn’t wealthy, athletic, or in the cool group gets elected Student Council President…

… I mean President of the United States.

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Two Day School Weeks Are Cool.


School is back in session after a two week break for the holidays.

Last night, I was overcome with sadness and depression and I couldn’t quite put my finger on what was causing it.

Was it the weather? Was it the fact that the holidays are over? Was it the fact that my mother-in-law was sponging yet another free meal off of us?

I have never met someone who is happier when he or she gets a free hot meal.I Wish I Lived Here.

I don’t think the woman eats between visits. I think she starves herself and then comes and eats enough so that she can then hibernate for about two weeks until she can return to our house.

The preceding three paragraphs were written in fun and in no way should imply that my mother-in-law is a mooch, a big eater, or a bear. Mother-in-law jokes are easy (plus this is my last gasp hope that I still might be in her will… obviously my odds aren’t good now, but maybe if we invite her over for lasagna…).

But back to my original thought. Yesterday was a Wednesday evening, yet it felt like a Sunday.

Then it hit me like a ton of bricks. I should have recognized the actual source of my sadness earlier. The answer was right in front of me the whole time.

Going to work after a long break isn’t fun. That’s right; I just wrote what everyone was thinking.

I would rather stay home day after day, never shave, occasionally shower, sleep in, stay up late (9:15 pm), and certainly never iron dress shirts or wear a tie.

This sounds better than getting up at 5:00 am and going to work.

There you have it. I said it. I prefer sitting at home doing nothing as opposed to going to work (with one exception… as long as I am getting paid from work).

But the best thing about education (besides the students, the long hours, and the high pay) is the time off that we get.

Summers, long weekends, and holiday vacations. You can’t put a price on free time.

That is why we shouldn’t complain about the pay in education too much. Time is worth far more than money.

This week I have to go to work two straight days. Yes, you read it correctly. I have to work a Thursday and a Friday before I get a weekend off.

I don’t know how much longer I can keep up this pace.

I’ve considered quitting my job because permanent time off would be nice, but I need the money for groceries.

Although after reading this, she may not come back.

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While this site operates with the knowledge and awareness of the Tuscola CUSD #301 School Board, Tuscola, Illinois, the content and opinions posted here may or may not represent their views personally or collectively, nor does it attempt to represent the official viewpoint of Tuscola CUSD #301 administrators or employees.