Unrealistically High Self-Esteem.

selfesteemThe Evil Spawn up close and personal is an experience.

For the life of me, I can’t remember why we bought her (this is a joke… as far as you and the authorities know…).

Seeing her in the wild of junior high is just weird.

Weird because in a world where everyone is struggling to fit in, she doesn’t care.

I find it both interesting and oddly disturbing.

She’s at the age where she should be aware of how she looks, acts, and talks.

She hasn’t a clue.

And if she does, she doesn’t care.

I’m not even sure she knows she’s supposed to care.

She prides herself of going down a path where she’s the only traveler.

Her fashion sense is simple.  The more sequins the better.  She dresses like a really bad country western singer (think Porter Wagoner… by the way this is my oldest reference ever!).

She has more self-esteem than 20 teenagers combined.

It’s borderline disturbing.

Her worst day ever was great.

I have no idea where she gets it.  It makes me want to meet her real father (another joke… I think… although my wife was strangely quiet when she read this).

Is it possible for my daughter to go through life and be completely content in who she is?

Note from wife:  She gets the “I don’t care” gene honestly.  And for that I am VERY thankful.

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Facebook is Bad News for Schools.


If you are employed by a school you probably have some challenges.

The goofy kids.

Test scores.


More goofy kids.


Parents of goofy kids.

Goofy parents of goofy kids (although personally, I’ve never had any of these).

Since there have been schools, there have been administrators.  Which means there have been challenges for administrators at school.

It’s part of the job (Note to new principals:  not everyone is going to love you… sorry you had to hear it here first).

And the truth is, without problems, most of us would be without jobs.

This is why I consider the challenges at school to be job security (most days, I have a LOT of security).

But as I grow older (and I seem to every day), I’m starting to see changes for school administrators.

Yes, I’m turning into that person who pines for the good old days of 2006.

The biggest 3 changes I’ve seen since I started in this profession are:  mandated testing, finances, and decaying of good will towards teachers.

None of these are good.

The worst one is probably how our country feels about teachers (it’s sad really).

But even with these tough hills to climb, there is something I see as possibly an even bigger pain in the caboose (I think I just dated myself with my reference to train cars that no longer exist).

It’s Facebook.

I hate Facebook.

And I know less about Facebook than I do about trains. 

And I don’t really hate Facebook because we’ve never officially met.

I’m sure Facebook has good qualities.  Just like the goofy kids (they do grow out of it… eventually).

The challenge I see for school administrators isn’t with students and Facebook.  It’s with rumors and Facebook.

People like excitement.

People like rumors.

And people really like exciting rumors.

Facebook makes it easy.

When I first started working in schools, if people didn’t like you or a decision you made they had to express themselves in person.

In your office.

Or on the phone.

Maybe an angry letter in the newspaper (again… the good old days).

Now they can do it on the interweb using Facebook.

And the worst part, it doesn’t have to be true. 

People can say anything.  Or worse, they can type anything.

The more exciting and untrue, the more interesting  for others.

This isn’t good.  Especially when people are typing at 2:30 in the morning (never good…never ever good).

In fact, it’s bad for school administrators.

It makes a difficult job almost impossible.

Maybe I will see the day where people type nice things on Facebook in the middle of the night.

But I’m not holding my breath.

Because the goofy kids of today will probably be the Facebookers of tomorrow.

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Dodgeball is Bombardment. Same Game. Less Suffering.

This week I had the honor of watching The Evil Spawn play her very first game of Dodgeball.dodgeball_md

It wasn’t pretty.

Turns out little girls aren’t good at violence.

This makes me sad. 

You have a child.  You nickname her The Evil Spawn.  And yet, she embarrasses the family name with her kind-hearted nature (I can assure you she wasn’t raised like this).

She understood the rules of the game, but was confused by the “unspoken” rule.

That’s the one that says “I will do everything in my power to throw a ball as hard as possible directly into my best friend’s snout with the hope they will pass out from the indescribable pain.”

At least this is how I remember Dodgeball.

Which by the way, we didn’t call Dodgeball.

We called it Bombardment.

Dodgeball makes it sound like you have a chance of getting out of the way and you might not have to return to class with a giant welt on your face.

When I was a kid, good luck with that.

PE meant suffering.

There was no walking or aerobics.

There was pain and there was suffering.

Your choice.

Actually, it wasn’t your choice.  It was the seniors’ choice.

And they usually chose a double-helping of both.

It was called Bombardment because it was an act of war.

We didn’t play for fun.

We played for survival.

We didn’t look forward to PE.

We dreaded it from the moment we opened our eyes each morning.

There was no giggling.  No laughing.  No enjoying one another’s company.

There was only the stench of fear in the air.

We didn’t get in trouble if we hit our friends in the face.  We got in trouble if we bled on the gym floor (Coach’s Rule #1:  Bleed Outside).

These days the kids are soft.

And lucky.

And don’t even get me started on the foam balls they get to use.  It’s like getting hit with a sponge.  We used hard rubber ones the size of baseballs.

They hurt.  Bad.  The fun was in the pain.  At least that’s what the PE teacher told us.

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Do You Know Who I Am?


I haven’t a clue.

It never fails.  I will be out and about, minding my own business, and some snot-nosed 27 year old will walk up say…

“Do you remember me?”


Remember you?


I haven’t a clue.

If I had you in class thirteen years ago, things have changed.

I’ve had 87,412 students since then.

You are older.

Your hair is different.

You’ve had kids.  Lost weight.  Gained weight.  Gotten shorter.  Grew a foot.

Done 4 years of hard time.  Tattooed up.

Had kids of your own.

Possibly even pierced things that shouldn’t be pierced.

I’ve gotten older.  Less wise.  Tired.  And even more confused.

Usually it’s a combination of several of these things and they all add up to “I think I know you, but I’m not really sure why”.

I usually get the sense we’ve crossed paths, but have no concept of when or where.

So, if you walk up to me please know I’m going to have a stupid, uncomfortable, lost, and confused look on my face.


Until, you do us both a favor and say who you are.

This is a basic rule of introducing yourself.  Introduce yourself.

Because when a student is in school, they have one superintendent.  One principal.  And one teacher for each class.

We have dozens of students.  Or hundreds.  And even thousands.

Multiply that by 10, 20, or 30 years and it’s a lot of kids.

Most of which won’t look the same after they graduate.

Which means I won’t always know who you are.

When students leave, they are forever frozen in time.  At least in my mind.

So while, I may not remember you, I will probably remember the 1994 version of you.

Of course, none of this is true if you were really challenging in school.  If there was a suspension, there’s a pretty good chance I’ll remember your face.  And your beady little eyes.

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After Hiring Comes Firing.

There is no greater responsibility for a school administrator than hiring teachers.

Well, there is the HUGE responsibility of opening juice boxes, but I’m not counting this one (the average civillian just doesn’t understand the complexity of this issue).fired1

I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, interviewing and choosing staff members who will be in your building for the next 35 years is a big responsibility.

The biggest.

Except for the ability to open a small cardboard box containing apple juice and jamming a 2 inch straw into it without losing an appendage (I’m telling you it’s harder than it looks).

Here is what I know about the hiring process.

The position comes open.  It’s advertised.  Then 849 people you barely know become your best friend.

They email.  They call.  They drop by.  They will corner you in the grocery store.

They wave an uncomfortably friendly wave as they drive by your house for the 40th time.

They hang out in the bushes just outside your bedroom window (I wish I was making this up).

And they all want the same thing.

They want you to hire their niece.

Or son.

Or neighbor.

Or the kid who sat 17 rows in front of them in church ten years ago (being a good sheep in the Christmas play does not guarantee you will be a good Chemistry teacher… I’m just sayin’).

Everyone wants to help someone they know get a job.

And there’s nothing wrong with this (personally, I really don’t mind… and this isn’t sarcasm… as far as you know).


Unless, you hire this person and they turn out to be bad.

Really bad.

I mean bad like you have to duck when you  walk by their classroom bad (don’t laugh… we’ve all had to do it).

Hiring people makes you popular.

Until you have to fire them.

Then you become a terrible terrible person who fired a really nice kid.

A good kid from town.

From a good family.

Who just needed a chance.  Then a second chance.  And probably a 50th chance.

You will know this is true because when the firing takes place a concert-like crowd of people will show up at the school board meeting to express their disgust for you.

Which means it’s easy to hire a townie.  But it’s hard to fire one.

This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t hire locally.  It’s just means they should have had a larger role than Sheep #4 in the Christmas play.

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Kindergarten Kids Remind Me of Las Vegas.


No, they don’t have creepy thin mustaches like Wayne Newton (although it would be really cool if they did).

And they don’t take all my money and leave me sad and depressed (turns out what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas… especially when my money is involved).playdough

But every year I get the same feeling from the brand new crop of 5 year olds.

They are so excited.

Their parents are thrilled to finally have them in school (no more paying for babysitting!!!).  Those aren’t tears of sadness from mom and day, they are tears of joy.

These kids love to color.

And count.

And play.

And they love to look at picture books about dogs and cats  (why are they always dogs and cats???).

And evidently go to the bathroom, because it seems that’s where they’re always headed (if I had a dollar for every kid who forgot to zip his pants…).

It’s a commonly known school administrator practice to go down to the kindergarten room anytime you’re having a bad day.

They cheer you up.  And if they can’t, who can?

Their smiles and laughter.

Their happiness and joy.

When I see these kids learning to read or shoving Play-Doh up their noses, I always wonder who in this esteemed group will be valedictorian or prom queen.

One of these youngsters will no doubt be the starting quarterback.  Several will earn college scholarships.

There might even be a doctor or lawyer in the group.

But with good always comes bad.

I’ve done this long enough to know for every success there is going to be struggle.

Which makes me think.  Who in this group will have difficult challenges as they work their way through life?

There will be learning disabilities.  Divorced parents.  Financial difficulties.

The truth is some will face challenges I don’t even want to think about.

That’s why every kindergarten class reminds me of Las Vegas.

On the surface, everything is wonderful.  But just underneath things aren’t quite so perfect.

In the course of writing(?) this blog, I depressed myself.  First thing in the morning, I’m going to visit the kindergarten kids.  They always make me happy.

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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.