The Perfect School.


Lately, I have been thinking what it would take to make a perfect school. Here is my list in no particular order.

Sure, I may have some kinks in my system, but it is a start.

* Air conditioning (it has been HOT!)
* The school day would start at 7:00 a.m. (everyone seems to get more accomplished before 11 o’clock in the morning than they do the rest of the day)
* Every student would be required to write a blog about their thoughts, goals, daily adventures and misadventures, etc.
* Yearly comprehensive physicals for all students and staff (preventive medicine is good)
* Students would be required to read 5 other blogs. Read, Read, Read.

* School uniforms (this includes staff members… I am tired of ironing dress shirts)
* No prep time for teachers, but they would have to be at school 2 hours longer than students… could be before or after school… or a combination
* 4 day school weeks (I am thinking the day should go from 7 to 5)
* Everyone reads… a lot (including all staff… certified and non certified)
* Extra pay for new ideas and innovation (teachers and students)

* Teachers and Administrators would be required to take 2 college or high school courses every year… forever (I am leaning towards sitting in on Art or Spanish)
* 1 hour each day of physical education (staff included)
* Free milk (saves me 30 cents a day)
* All students would have to watch at least 1 hour of CNN each day (we need to understand that there is a big world out there)
* Music in the classrooms, hallways, bathrooms… everywhere

* Recycling program
* Staff members would come from all economic, social, and racial backgrounds (but they would all be positive, upbeat, and funny)
* Lots of guest speakers (from inspirational to everyday people)
* All athletic contests would be held on weekends
* Technology… and lots of it

* A staff member whose sole job would be to help other staff members with technology
* Every classroom and office would have a pet (I am going with either a dog or a monkey… can’t decide)
* Students would have a voice in teacher and administrator evaluations
* Field trips to museums, colleges, inner city or the country (the opposite of where you live)
* Teachers could take sabbaticals and not have it affect their retirement

* Required classes in religion (all kinds) and foreign language (all kinds)
* Art and Music class every day
* Cooks would make freshly baked cookies every day
* All employees on 1 year contracts (a 1 year contract is a written guarantee that people will do their best)
* Free pencils (no more upset teachers if a student forgets to bring one to class)

* An end to a schedule of 45 minute classes (more time for reading… less for something else… haven’t figured this part out as of yet)
* Every student and teacher would be required to volunteer 5 hours a month
* Paperless office
* Students and Staff would have to help the janitors twice a year (and consequently would pick up after themselves)
* Mandatory speech and debate classes (has anyone NOT needed the ability to speak in public?)

* Laptops and wireless internet for everyone
* A variety of vocational classes
* All snow days must be announced in advance (sleeping in is cool)
* No study halls
* Retired teachers can come and go as they please (to help teach, tutor, and mentor)

* No lounge (staff eats in cafeteria with the students)
* Ban on students driving to school (bikes and buses only)
* No bells (they are annoying and colleges seem to survive without them)
* Only educational field trips (families, not schools, should go to Six Flags…)
* All students would have to participate on 2 athletic teams (preferably 1 where they are not good… there is a lot to be learned when you are not the best)

* Teachers would teach to the state test (seems to work for drivers education and med school)
* Every discipline situation would be addressed within 10 minutes
* Clean bathrooms (just because I am easily grossed out)
* Outdoor classrooms
* Students would have representation on the school board

* No yelling… by students or staff
* Every 5 years all staff members would have to work full-time at another job (we would all appreciate education that much more)
* Cumulative tests (life is cumulative, not short chapters)
* Free swim lessons (I have always regretted not learning to swim)
* Mandatory tutoring (older students teaching younger students)

* Volunteers in every classroom… every day
* Students would be allowed to drink water or eat fruit in class
* Dodgeball (no hitting in the face… principal gets first pick)
* No school on the first day of Spring when it is 80 degrees and sunny
* Free donuts every Friday morning

* Social hour for staff at the end of the week
* Corporal punishment would be allowed (but never used… the idea is the scary part)

A longer list than I first envisioned, but you need some extensive guidelines to have a perfect school.

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School Administrators Joke #2: Be Careful What You Ask Elementary Students.


It Never Hurts to Laugh.Here is another joke about principals in what is quickly becoming a continuing series (if you consider 2 to be a series). I may be on to something here (if I’m not, at least it makes for an easy blog).

The Joke…

As the assembly was about to begin, Mr. Jones, the elementary principal decided to start it off by saying something encouraging to his student body.

In the last year, the school had seen their test scores improve dramatically, so he wanted to compliment the students on their intelligence.

As he walked on stage and looked out into the crowd of 300 elementary students, he couldn’t have been more proud. He walked up to the podium, grabbed the microphone and asked “Who is smart? Please, put up your hand.”

All the students except one raised their hand. Little Timothy was the only one to sit there and just stare at Mr. Jones.

So the principal asked, “Timothy, why aren’t you raising your hand?

The little boy responded “Because if I raise my hand than you’ll be all alone.”

Again, always keep in mind that they are not laughing with us, but at us. And by they, I mean everyone.

Some will say that I am just being paranoid. I beg to differ. Paranoia is often confused with common sense.

And if everyone is out to get you (even the elementary kids) it is not paranoia, it’s only good common sense.

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College Can’t Fix Stupid.


Stupid is as Stupid Does.This week I have been up to my knees in a thick grotesque murky liquid that I like to call… stupid.

Not students. Or teachers. Or staff members. Or parents. Not anyone associated with our school district.

Outsiders.

People with college educations. People that every district has to put their faith in when doing a project that needs expertise and guidance that we don’t have.

When first meeting people, I am usually hoping they are very bright and are on top of their professions. And therefore if we hire them, they will be on top of our issues. Lately, I have been wrong.

Schools all over the country have to count on many different types of people to help them with all kinds of different situations.

Examples are almost endless but schools often contract outsiders to work with breakfast and lunch programs, audits, outside janitorial services, construction projects, grounds-keeping, snow removal, legal advice, etc.

You would think these educated people would be of upmost help. In too many cases, this isn’t true.

The one thing all of these people have in common is the ability to point to college degrees on their office walls.

The problem is that colleges can’t fix stupid and they don’t give out degrees in common sense.

There are questions that need to be answered. And no, it is not can I get a restraining order to keep all stupid people at least 150 feet away from me? (I already asked and the Judge said no)

The questions:

• Why, as educators, do we continue to believe that college is the answer for all our students?
• Why can’t we be more open minded about students taking vocational classes or focusing on getting training in a trade?
• Why are we so insistent that all students go down the same path? The college path.

Lately, I have found people who “work” for a living to be a lot “smarter” than those with a college education. Maybe a big dose of common sense is ultimately worth more than a master’s degree (and I have heard it costs quite a bit less).

I have never really cared if my plumber, bricklayer, or carpenter scored well on the ACT test. It doesn’t matter to me if they have the skills to write a term paper, can recite all of the state capitals, diagram a sentence, or have an A on their transcripts in Chemistry II.

What is important is that they are trustworthy, have common sense, and have a good understanding of their job.

That is worth far more than a college degree.

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I Hate the First Day of School. But I Have Yet Another Plan.


Yes, it’s true.

I hate the first day of school.

Hate it. With a passion.

You heard me. Haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaate it.

I hate it like a 15 year old boy hates homework (or a 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18, or 41 year old… the point being, boys don’t like homework).
My Plan is Very Detailed.
I hate it like my 7 year old daughter hates boys (I can sense her disgust for boys slowly fading away… I am afraid that I am in for some long and painful years between the ages of 12 and 21).

Did I mention that I hate the first day of school?

Good. Just so we are all on the same page (and as long as that page isn’t a worksheet or a term paper).

If you are asking yourself, why does he hate the first day so much? The opening of school has so many positives. It is a great time of the educational year.

Students are generally excited to be back in a routine (even if they don’t admit it), parents are unusually excited for the students to be out of their house (they can’t wait to admit it), and the teachers are usually ready to start a new year (some will reluctantly admit it).

Fall is in the air. The leaves will be turning colors. The weather is cooling down. Football is about to begin. And don’t forget Christmas is just around the corner (can someone please tell me why time is getting faster… there used to be 24 hours in a day).

Still, even with all of these good things happening, I hate it.

The first day of school is exhausting.

More mentally than physically (although my feet do hurt on the first day… every year… mental note, next year hold off on wearing the new school shoes until Day 2).

So much work goes into getting school started. It is unbelievable how much time and effort goes into reviewing rules and policies that everyone on staff was following only 3 short months ago. Wouldn’t this time be better used focusing on students?

Now pay attention, because I am only going to say this once.

As someone who has been adamantly opposed to year round school. As someone who treasures their time off. As a person who excitedly looks forward to summer even more than a boy who is getting a Red Ryder BB gun for Christmas (that is my second Holiday reference in an August blog… very impressive if you ask me… and I just realized that no one is asking me, so let’s move on).

But before we do… if you are receiving a BB Gun this year… keep in mind “That you will shoot your eye out, kid.”

Back to the subject at hand.

Here it goes. Please don’t ever repeat this.

Because I will deny it.

I think year round school might be a good idea.

I can’t believe that those heinous words just came out of my mouth. I feel a little dirty (I may need to shower before continuing).

Yes, I hate the first day of school because of the time and effort it takes.

It is amazing to me the amount of things that need addressed that we all took for granted just last spring.

Discipline, how to take attendance, putting grades in the computer, etc… it goes on and on.

Wouldn’t it just be easier (and better for the students) to go year round and take shorter breaks?

Oh my gosh, I just said it again. I may throw up in my mouth if I don’t stop.

I have become the national poster boy for year round school (by national, I mean the 12 people who read this… yes, my readership is way up… thank you very much).

My proposal is as follows. 9 weeks of school, 3 weeks off.

And of course a little longer vacation during the summer. I haven’t hashed that part of the plan out just yet.

Although, I am thinking a summer vacation should last somewhere between 14 and 32 weeks.

You see, while I am now a proponent of year round schooling, I still love my summers.

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School Administrators Joke #1: How Coaches Become Principals.


This is a brand new feature on PrincipalsPage.com.

Jokes about us.

We can’t take ourselves too seriously…You Make a Horse Laugh and You've Done Something.

because we have to realize, they (and by they, I mean everyone… remember a little paranoia keeps you sharp and on your toes) are not laughing with us, but at us.

I came up with this feature just moments ago as I sprinted (I mean ran… I mean jogged… actually, to be honest it is more of a walk/shuffle) through my daily (sometimes daily, often it is more of a few times a week) exercise program.

A few days ago, someone (a.k.a. @tjshay via twitter) sent my wife this joke about principals. I had heard it before, but had forgotten it (because I am so busy, I can’t remember everything… or possibly I am just old and forgetful).

The joke.

“Qualifications to be a Principal. A Master’s Degree and two consecutive losing seasons.”

Makes me smile every time I think about it.

Probably because in so many cases it is true. Let it be noted…my last season of coaching resulted in the kids having a winning season (I say kids because it was all them… very little of me).

I like to think I have a great sense of timing. Get out right before things go bad. Don’t overstay your coaching welcome. Leave on a winning note. Let the next coach deal with the rebuilding.

So that is what I did. I saw the writing on the wall. I got out. The very next season the kids had a record of 24 and 5.

I have said it before, but it deserves repeating. I am an idiot.

As usual, the joke was on me.

True story: I met a gentleman from Texas who got “promoted” to high school principal after having 2 losing seasons in a row as head football coach. The “promotion” came with a $7,000 pay cut.

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Teachers Carrying Guns? I Have a Couple of Questions.


I Prefer My Teachers Not to be Packing.I came across this article on the Houston Chronicle website.

NORTH TEXAS SCHOOL DISTRICT WILL LET TEACHERS CARRY GUNS

HARROLD, Texas – A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to pack guns for protection when classes begin later this month, a newspaper reported.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Superintendent David Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff’s office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district’s lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.

“When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that’s when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can’t defend themselves? That’s like saying ‘sic ‘em’ to a dog,” Thweatt said in Friday’s online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

Thweatt said officials researched the policy and considered other options for about a year before approving the policy change. He said the district also has various other security measures in place to prevent a school shooting.

“The naysayers think (a shooting) won’t happen here. If something were to happen here, I’d much rather be calling a parent to tell them that their child is OK because we were able to protect them,” Thweatt said.

Texas law outlaws firearms on school campuses “unless pursuant to the written regulations or written authorization of the institution.”

It was unclear how many of the 50 or so teachers and staff members will be armed this fall because Thweatt did not disclose that information, to keep it from students or potential attackers. Wilbarger County Sheriff Larry Lee was out of the office Thursday and did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment, the newspaper said.

Barbara Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Association of School Boards, said her organization did not know of another district with such a policy. Ken Trump, a Cleveland-based school security expert who advises districts nationwide, including in Texas, said Harrold is the first district with such a policy.

The 110-student district is 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth on the eastern end of Wilbarger County, near the Oklahoma border.

To me, this brings up a couple (or a thousand) questions.

Are all teachers allowed to carry guns? Does the administration or school board get to decide who has a gun and who doesn’t?

What about the teachers who just received a bad evaluation?

Even worse, what about that teacher who is having a “bad day” or a “bad year”? Is the district concerned about them making a “bad decision”?

Should we be concerned about the teacher who is easily distracted?

What about the brand new teacher who has just graduated from college and has that glazed over look of constant nervousness? Can they have a gun when they have yet to deal with their first discipline issue or angry parent?

Is shooting straight going to be part of the training during student teaching?

Personally, I have never gotten upset enough with a student or parent to use a gun. But, I have also never had a gun holstered under my suit jacket (plus, it is probably not a good fashion statement… that unsightly bump on your hip… not exactly a trimming look).

If I did wear a holster, should it match my tie or my shoes? I for one don’t need any more drama when I am trying to get my school clothes together.

Will this deter students from passing notes, having their cell phone on in class, or not turning their homework in on time?

At the minimum, it should cut back on the backtalk.

Will coaches be allowed to carry guns on the sidelines, on the bus, or during practice? If so, will fans think twice before second-guessing their decisions from the stands?

Should referees be nervous?

What happens when an angry student overpowers a staff member and takes their gun?

How long before a student says to a teacher “what are you going to do, shoot me”?

How long before a student goes home and tells their parents “a teacher threatened to shoot me today at school”?

Will this guarantee that Teacher’s Meetings never run long?

What will the insurance company think? Mine worries that a student might trip when we have a crack in the sidewalk. What would they say if the staff was armed and ready?

Will students put more effort into running the mile in PE?

Should administrators be worried when a teacher knocks on their office door and says “I need to speak to you” (note to self, have secretaries start screening visitors).

What happens when two teachers get upset with each other? (okay, bad example… that never happens)

Can teachers have them during contract negotiations?

As you can see, my questions are endless…

Don’t get me wrong, I am not anti-gun or against taking every precaution to protect our students during the school day, but teachers with guns just might be a problem.

Oh, what am I so worried about. Once again, I am making a mountain out of a molehill.

When you really think about the concept of teachers walking around the hallways or being in their classrooms with guns… what could possibly go wrong?

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Students Love Computers at School. I Blame Caffeine.


I Sometimes Feel Like This at 2 o'clock in the Morning.As we start back to school, I would like to take a moment to mourn… I mean cry… I mean reflect on our students and the expectations we have for them.

Pay attention because this may be the only time that I take the students’ side.

Of course that’s not true because I am extremely pro-student. But I will be watching them. And their friends. Especially during the lunch hour… and between classes… and before school… and at dances… and during games (I think you get the point).

It is relatively common to hear older generations (that would be us) say kids these days are lazy, unmotivated, and not as interested in school (or anything else) as we were.

I am here to make the case that this isn’t true. In fact, they may be more ambitious and open to obtaining knowledge than we were as kids.

I believe this to be true because during my teenage years I was completely uninterested in work, waking up, breathing, reading, school, and anything else that required effort (other than sports… I loved sports… and girls, but unfortunately they were something called “frightened and disgusted” by me).

I think kids in 2008 are so far advanced of our generation that it makes us nervous. Consequently, we label them as lazy or worthless just because they have different interests than we did.

It is important for us old folks to keep in mind that the “good old days” weren’t all that great.

No computers, no video games, no air conditioning in my parents’ station wagon (with the fake wood paneling on the side… don’t kid yourself, it was sweet), me always having to sit on the hump in the back seat of the hot station wagon, no cable TV (or Dish Network, just an antenna that pulled in 3 stations… one of which was PBS, so it didn’t even count), no watching movies in the car (or ever: see crappy TV), no internet, no vacations, no ice cream, no pizza delivery, no electricity, 18 hours of chores every morning, Christmas got cancelled twice… so again you get the point… no anything fun, ever.

When I was a kid we walked 87 miles uphill to school (both ways… usually in the snow), slept on the floor, ate dirt for dinner, went to bed at 6:30 p.m. (because our parents were sick of us by then), sweat all night in the summer, and froze to death in the winter.

And worst of all, I had to wear clothes that were hand-me-downs. That isn’t even the worst part. The worst part is I don’t have brothers. Only 2 sisters. Try explaining the frilling jeans with sequin purple flowers on the back pockets to your buddies (I do miss the fashions of the 70’s, but maybe this partially explains the “frightened and disgusted” reaction I so often received from the ladies).

Today’s kids grow up in a world that I barely recognize. And I try to stay somewhat current.

Sure, they don’t play outside as much, do as many chores, or ride their bikes 20 miles a day. But this isn’t laziness, it’s because they have more exciting things to do.

If my generation was so smart, why did we follow the truck on Saturday night that was spraying for mosquitoes in the summer? And I mean right behind, where we could breathe in as much of the chemicals as possible (any chance that explains my frequent blackouts and night terrors?).

We did things like that because we were trying to amuse ourselves. And trust me, after speaking to my doctor, a Nintendo Wii or laptop computer is much safer.

We shouldn’t try to convince students that computers, cell phones, texting, video games, Google, YouTube, etc. are bad. It is just different.

It is called choices. And they have lots of them. So when they are given these opportunities to make a choice, naturally they choose whatever is the most fun and exciting.

Don’t kid yourself. If we had the chance to play video games for 5 hours straight rather than skip rocks across a pond, we would have chosen the video games every time.

We played Cowboys and Indians outside in the heat. This generation plays computer games where they get to shoot things without leaving their air conditioned family rooms. Who do you think is smarter?

As educators we need to stop fighting progress and embrace it.

Kids aren’t lazy; they are just simply used to instant gratification. They aren’t dumb because they don’t read newspapers. They are smarter because they get their information online, immediately as events happen.

Sure they choose to stare at a computer instead of going outside. But they are learning, just in a different way.

We can’t expect them to come to school and go backwards. So we can’t be surprised when they find a whiteboard or an overhead projector painfully boring. They need to be fed information at a faster pace than we were taught. It is the way we are raising them and all of the caffeine they drink (trust me, if we could have bought a 64 ounce Big Gulp for 79 cents… we would have).

How would we feel when attending a workshop where the speaker wrote their speech on a chalkboard…in longhand…and we had to take notes?

Our reaction would probably indicate the presenter needing to catch up with the times.

And that is how kids view us.

Progress is good. And inevitable.

As old people, we need to jump aboard with technology or get out of the way.

Students are coming to school smarter. And they want to learn. And they want technology. And lots of it.

The next time I hear a student complain about a SMARTBoard, a computer assignment, or anything related to technology being boring… it will be the first time.

In a perfect world, education would be out front leading the changes. In the real world, education has to change because the students already have.

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New School Year, New Crop of Principals, and Old Advice… Run.


Newbies... Best of Luck.I had my first big meeting of the new school year this week (1 down and only 800 bazillion to go).

The start of meeting season means two things. One, I had to iron my dress clothes and two, I saw the brand new crop of first year principals.

I don’t know which circumstance made me feel worse. The wearing of a suit and tie did break my streak of 76 consecutive days of wearing shorts (oh, how I love the summer), but the “deer in the headlights” look that new principals have in their eyes always makes me nostalgic (and of course by nostalgic, I mean sad).

As I continue to fumble around with writing this blog, certain subjects come up over and over. New administrators seem to be one of them. Lucky for me it seems very appropriate since a high percentage of this blog’s readers seem to be new administrators.

I guess that makes sense. I seldom meet a reader of this blog who is over 50 years old (if you are, email me and you may officially be named The Oldest Reader… quite an honor don’t you think?… Plus you may receive parting gifts and the game version of PrincipalsPage.com).

Just like students, the new principals seem to get younger each year. It is like the school districts are hiring sophomores to run their buildings.

I remember when I was a new administrator… and young… but just barely, because the mind is not as sharp as it used to be.

The newbie’s are so excited to begin their career in educational administration. And scared to death.

How can I be so sure?

The glazed over look in their eyes always gives it away. And as someone who had that look, I feel qualified to comment on it.

Pure and simple. It is fear.

Fear of new responsibilities, teachers, parents, students, school board meetings, supervision, speaking in public, evaluating staff, addressing employees… you name it and it makes them nervous. Really nervous.

But the good news is that if you are lucky that feeling passes. At least a little. I don’t think as an administrator you ever completely shake it.

Another quality of a first year administrator: Fast talking. That always blows their covers as a rookie. First year administrators forget to breathe when they speak. They are so focused on spewing everything out just to “get it over with” often forgetting their audience doesn’t understand a word they say. The blue facial tint (could be fear, could be lack of oxygen, could be a sign of snug fitting pantyhose or too tightly knotted tie… who knows) of a first year administrator is a sure give away.

By the second year in the job, these feelings go down by about 50%… so at least you have that going for you.

If you are a new administrator my advice hasn’t changed (or grown in value). Run.

Like the wind.

And don’t look back.

And I don’t mean from the job. I mean for the job.

Exercise. A lot. And don’t make the excuse that you don’t have time.

Everyone gets the same 24 hours in a day. It is just how you prioritize them.

Make exercise a priority for yourself, your family, and your school. Get up early if you need to.

A half hour a day will do you good and everyone around you will benefit.

And if that doesn’t work. Run.

From the job. There is no shame in hiding in your office, sitting in the corner in a fetal position, and rocking back and forth.

We have all been there (not really, I am just trying to lift your spirits if things go horribly wrong for you).

The good news is that when you survive the first year (and you will, especially if you exercise), you can attend a meeting and stare at the new crop of 2009 administrators.

And you too will recognize that glazed look in their eyes.

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My School is Just Like Newton North High School. Not.


My High School Looks Slightly Different.I was reading online (because no one born after 1970 reads an actual newspaper) about the palace that is the new Newton, Massachusetts high school.

The article details how the state wants to put a stop to these Taj Mahal types of building projects.

Oh, did I mention the school is going to cost $200 million? Did I mention this is the first I have heard of a Taj Mahal type of school?

These building projects have upset some politicians because they feel it is a waste of taxpayers’ money. This also came as a shock to me. When did elected officials decide that wasting taxpayer’s money is a bad idea?

I am not sure what all of the complaining is about. As far as I know there is no correlation between good facilities and the type of education a student receives. If there was, wouldn’t the government step in and try to equalize how education is funded (this is a little thing that I like to call sarcasm)?

This got me thinking how much my school has in common with Newton North’s. Sure, the argument can be made that their school is superior, but I think the case can be made that we are in a much better situation.

Their building is going to be 413,000 square feet (or 33,368 square meters for our Canadian friends). My school also is made up of square feet. Sure we have a little less (about 375,000 less) but on the upside, it doesn’t take as long to clean (or walk down the entire hall).

Their school is located close to Harvard University. We have a junior college 20 miles from here. I am guessing our students pay slightly less in tuition (you might as well get those general ed. requirements out of the way… and at a much cheaper price).

The article says residents of Newton enjoy two symphony orchestras and have a median income of $101,001, which is twice the national average.

Residents of my school district also have incomes. Sadly, we don’t have a symphony but there is a sophomore boy who drives around town playing loud rap music on his 1987 truck stereo (yes, old pickup trucks and rap music do go together).

And let’s not judge him; culture comes in many different forms.

Bloomberg.com says their new school was designed by Gund Partnership, a Cambridge-based firm that has designed buildings for Harvard. This firm won the 2005 American Architecture Award for the National Association of Realtors’ glass-enclosed headquarters in Washington.

We also have an architect. He says we need to fix the potholes in the parking lot before someone gets hurt.

The lesson here? Advice that costs more isn’t necessarily better.

The Newton High School will have an arts complex, an athletic wing, a swimming pool and a climbing wall.

While our school doesn’t have an arts complex, we do have an art class. We are also proud owners of a football field with sprinklers. It is our version of an athletic wing and a swimming pool.

We don’t have a climbing wall, but the kids can hop the fence if they want to take a short cut on their walk to school.

So we are not so different from Newton High School’s new complex.

Well maybe a little different. Actually, if you do the math I guess we are about $199 million different.

I wonder how much they charge the students for steak at lunch. This reminds me we need to raise our hot dog prices.

See, when you get right down to it we are all pretty much the same.

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School is Right Around the Corner. I Can Feel It.


If You Dread the Start of School... Don't Go Around This Corner.It is happening.

And it can’t be stopped.

The first day of school is coming. I feel like the teenager in the middle of a horror movie who starts to hear strange noises from five different directions while walking through the woods all alone in the middle of the night (always a good idea… and by the way, if you are sitting behind me at the theater… the movie character who is about to take a blunt instrument upside the head can’t hear you when you yell “look out” at the movie screen).

My powers (if I had any) are useless against the beginning of the school year.

It is my kryptonite.

Each summer, starting on about July 4th, I begin to sense it hanging around.

I feel like I am being watched… and mocked… and more than normal.

It shows up like clockwork, but I don’t need a calendar to confirm that school is about to start.

There are unmistakable changes in the universe that give it away.

I can’t put my finger on a specific event because it is more of a series of things.

My vacation is over, kids have stopped going to the pool, it feels more like fall than summer at 5:00 a.m. each morning, my wife is spending more and more time talking about needing good bulletin board ideas, Wal-mart is selling notebook paper for 12 cents for a 1000 sheets (how do they do it?), I have survived (barely) my doctor/dentist/optometrist appointments, and my neck has begun to swell up because it realizes I have to start wearing a dress shirt and tie once again.

On top of all that, teachers have begun to hang around the office at school. More people come out of the woodwork as the first day of school gets closer. They are like moths around a light bulb.

Summer is over.

Not on the calendar, but it’s over.

All of those things on my leisurely to do list have now become priorities.

I don’t mean to complain, because so many people don’t get summers off like those of us in education. But it is still sad to see another one come and go so quickly.

People used to tell me how fast time flies as you get older. I thought they were mistaken (or deranged). Or just old and angry (I think I just described myself in 20 years… or more likely… now).

They couldn’t have been more right.

At least there will be another summer next year. If all goes well.

All I have to do is avoid the big white guy in the woods wearing a hockey mask. This may be easier than the approaching troubles an average school administrator faces in the next 10 months.

Why do I feel like I should take off running… but not through the woods. That never works out.

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