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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The School Year is Gone. My Sanity Can Now Return.

You Can't Put a Price on Sanity.I survived. We all did. Even the students.

There was a point where we questioned whether any of us would make it, but we did.

Another school year is officially in the books. It went by so fast. Part of me is thankful while another part of me says my world needs to slow down (I think I just accidently admitted that I have multiple personalities… someone is going to be mad or 7 someones).

As I make my way towards old age (and the sweet relief of retirement), time seems to march on at an unbelievably fast pace.

With the year coming to a close, I have taken inventory and concluded that I am no worse for the wear.

Some minor bruises, facial cuts, a case of exhaustion, and some slight permanent mental damage is all that I have found.

Nothing that a few weeks off can’t cure.

And a vacation. And some therapy. And a shock treatment. With possibly a small dose of medication to curb my hallucinations.

Even my chalk and erasers are feeling better (they have had 8 months to heal).

But, let’s focus on the positive things that have been accomplished during the year.

The kindergarten kids are first graders; the 8th graders are freshman; and the seniors are now officially unemployed.

School year; we hardly knew you.

While it has run its course for 2007-2008, it will return.

From registration to football to homecoming to Thanksgiving to Christmas break to semester exams to prom and graduation… it’s gone for now, but it will be back.

And as with most school years… it was time for this one to go.

Each school year has a very specific feel to it. When you graduate from teacher’s college they give you a diploma, several thousand dollars in student loans, and a sixth sense about the school year.

From the day you graduate, every educator can sense the beginning of school weeks in advance (some call this the July 4th dread) and the exact moment school should be out for the summer.

My gut said school should have been out about 3 weeks ago.

And my gut never lies (honest).

I don’t know what it was about this year. The students were good, the teachers well-behaved, and I kept my head above water for another 185 days.

It just seemed that we all needed a break (did I mention that was about 3 weeks ago?).

Nothing specific happened to bring this feeling on, it was just a sense I got.

Anyway, it is now over.

As much as I have been looking forward to the end of this year, I must admit that I am already looking forward to the 2008-2009 school year.

Man, these pills really work fast.

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A Free Shirt and a Magazine Article; Who’s Laughing Now Mr. College Professor?

My Favorite College Professor... Dr. Indiana Jones.Today was a good day.

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t solve world hunger, win the lottery, or meet Mike Rowe (that would be winning the lottery!).

But, I did get a free shirt from Land’s End and a Blog published in The School Administrator Magazine (in case you don’t believe me… click here).

The shirt was a very nice thank you for my mentioning the Land’s End Teachers Light the Way Contest. This is officially your last mention, Land’s End. Unless, of course, another shirt happens to make its way into my mailbox (you know the address).

I also don’t mind taking credit for single-handedly saving a lady’s job at a very important public relations firm (by the way only works with the most powerful companies).

Thanks for the shirt. I can promise you that there will be a lot of bad golf played in it this summer.

As for the Blog, I have the people at the American Association of School Administrators (AASA) to thank.

They are either very nice or a little desperate for material since they have published my Blog as an “actual” article…in an “actual” magazine.

This may literally set the publishing industry in the educational administration field back 20 years.

I have been a big fan of the magazine, but now I wonder. Can I enjoy a publication that stoops to this level?

Chocolate Milk Tastes Better When I Am Not Being Violated has made it into the pages of the April issue (I just had a thought…could this be their April Fool’s joke on their readers?).

I was also excited to find out they placed the article in a very prominent place on page 59 (next time I am holding out for a cover).

So, it was a good day.

A free shirt and a magazine. Usually, just getting a free shirt makes my day.

When I received an advanced copy of the magazine (which made me feel quite important), thoughts of my first college English professor came rushing into my mind.

You are probably thinking that he is the inspiration for me to write. Or he introduced me to all the great works of literature. Or maybe he pushed me to be the best writer possible.

None of the above.

He took my first writing sample of my freshman year and ripped it to shreds.

At the top of the 3 pages that I had spent literally minutes composing, he wrote, “This IS the worst example of writing that I have EVER seen.”

I wish I was kidding. And I bet he wished he hadn’t wasted 12 brand new red pens on my assignment.

So on this momentous day (not really, but thanks for playing along), I remember you… Mr. College Professor.

And you didn’t think I would amount to anything. That I would be a total failure and blight on society.

I have a new shirt and a magazine article that begs to differ.

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Being a School Principal can be Wrought with Danger.

It Looks Good.  And It's a Danger.There are a lot of good things about being a school administrator. Unfortunately, with the good there must be some bad.

This kind of symmetry makes the world of education go round. First hour and last hour. Teachers and students. Homework and recess. Boys and girls. Math class and recess. Junior high students and detentions. School days and vacation. And the good and the bad.

If this highly organized system breaks down, our schools will be overtaken by mass confusion and total mayhem (alright… more than we have now).

I love the structure of the school day. Everything happens at a certain time.

School starts at 8:00 and dismisses at 3:30. Lunch is the same time every day. The work week is Monday through Friday. Pay day comes once a month whether I need it or not.

Structure and lots of it.

Nothing ever changes, until something goes horribly wrong. Which happens by my estimation about 113 times a day, if it has been a good and unusually peaceful day.

Last week I had one of those days. By late afternoon, things had almost been going too well. It had been almost too easy. It was quiet, maybe a little too quiet.

No crisis. No excitement. Nothing out of the ordinary. Until…

….I felt a sharp pain around my neck. Apparently I was being choked.

A variety of things ran through my mind. Who could it be? So little time and so many suspects. I quickly came up with a lengthy list of possible attackers.

Was it an angry parent? Had I upset a student or possibly a teacher? Someone in the community who was not happy with me? Maybe even the home school mom who keeps emailing me, or a soccer parent, or even the chocolate milk kid who haunts my dreams.

It could be one of a thousand people I had dealt with over the years.

One’s mind races in a time like this. My entire life flashed before me.

The highlights and, as it turns out, a lot of boring parts. If I survived this vicious attack, I really need to turn up the excitement a bit (alright… a lot).

My run as a school administrator was coming to an end in about 90 seconds if I didn’t act quickly.

Then it occurred to me.

I wasn’t being choked. I had just closed the file drawer on my tie. Sad but true. At least no one will ever know.

The moral of this story is I hate ties.

The good is I survived my attacking myself with a file cabinet. The bad is I am an idiot and still a target for about a thousand people (a guesstimate… there may be more).

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The Chocolate Milk Kid is Back. Be Afraid. I Am.

My What you are about to read actually happened. The names have not been changed, mainly because I don’t know the Chocolate Milk Kid’s name. But, that face is forever seared into my head and haunts me like a bad dream.

If you will recall, there was an “incident” a few weeks ago involving me, chocolate milk, and a renegade kindergarten kid (if you are lost, you may want to November 11 blog).

Well, he’s back.

I thought he and I had an understanding. I would avoid him at all costs and stay at least 50 feet away from him during school hours (like a self-imposed restraining order) and he would not accidently hit me in my man parts.

So I have spent most of the fall avoiding him and trying not to make eye contact (because I didn’t want to anger him).

I thought this was an excellent idea on my part. But, my best laid plans came crashing to a close yesterday.

Minding my own business, I was headed down the hallway to get my daily dose of chocolate milk (quite a bargain at 25 cents if you ask me) and then it happened.

I felt a presence before I even saw him. It was like a cold breeze had come down the hallway (this may be a bit overdramatic- some kid left the front door of the school open).

Just like Batman, he came out of the shadows. At that moment, I thought I was alone in the hallway and then suddenly, out of nowhere, he was right behind me.

My first thought was I should scream like a little girl and run and find an authority figure. But on second thought, it occurred to me that might be perceived as weakness by the teachers. Who can respect an administrator who screams and runs away from a 5 year old child?

Before I could make a decision on the screaming/running, the boy says “Hey, I know you!”

I interpreted this to mean, “Hey, old bald man in the ugly tie, I am an above average reader and I stumbled across your blog last night as I was cruising the internet. I read what you wrote about me and now I am going to kick your behind in front of the entire school.”

In retrospect it is possible that I read too much into what he said. Things were happening so fast at this point. About this time I began to feel a little light headed and there was some concern on my part that I might throw up.

And then my worst nightmare. Well, not worst. He didn’t hit me again, but he said, “I know where you live.”

I can no longer simply avoid him at school. The little guy with the strong right hook knows where I live.

I must have had a look of amazement combined with fear and a touch of shock on my face.

It was all happening so fast. The entire conversation probably only took 10 seconds, but to me it seemed to me that time had stopped.

The scary part… I don’t live in the same town in which I work. This kid has obviously gone out of his way to follow me home. He has specifically targeted me.

I hope everyone doesn’t lose respect for me, but I am considering not returning to work next week.

If I do go in, I am wearing protection. And I am not walking down that hallway in the morning alone.

It’s not safe.

Who knew a kid with a SpongeBob backpack and a Shrek lunchbox could be so scary?

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Chocolate Milk Tastes Better When I am Not Being Violated.

Beware of the Chocolate Milk Kid.There are lots of good things about being a school administrator. The stress, the long hours, and the unhappy ____________ (fill in the blank with employees, staff, parents, community members, other community’s members, students, board members, the state board of education, and people at the post office who know everything we need to do to fix education).

In my estimation the good administrators are able to deal with the challenges I listed above and more importantly can focus on all of the good aspects of education. Such as: great students, parents, teachers, staff, and board members.

Granted, some days are easier than others, but by forging ahead, being prepared, keeping a positive attitude, staying organized, and always keeping your head on a swivel, it is possible to survive days, weeks, and in rare instances even years.

One of the absolute best things about being an administrator are kindergarten kids. They have the ability to keep teachers and administrators smiling on even the most challenging of days. They are without fail the happiest, most upbeat students in a school district.

Every year, they are truly excited about the school day, love their teacher (and sometimes even the principal), and certainly smile more than any other group.

I am sorry to report that they do have a dark side.

A few days ago, I was standing in the hallway, drinking my chocolate milk, and trying to mind my own business as the students arrived for what seemed like just another day. Unfortunately I got complacent and broke one of my own cardinal rules.

I didn’t have my head on a swivel. This should be lesson #1 in administrative classes. Always, and I mean always keep your head moving at least 360 degrees and be on the lookout for trouble within a radius of 2 miles.

As I stood in that hallway, it seemed like an ordinary day (this is a joke- there are no ordinary days in education). A large gang of kindergarteners made their way past me and most said “Good morning” or “Hi”, even the one I now refer to as “Touch Me Again and I Will Scream like a Little Girl.”

You see, on that particular day the last one in the group walked by and said “Hi Mr. Guy Who Always Wears a Tie” (I can’t list my real name because of the embarrassment and shame it would bring to my family and school district- actually, I just don’t want to be made fun of when I am in public).

Sadly, after he said hello, he then preceded to smack, tap, or touch me right in the chalk and erasers (I am still not sure what exactly happened because the shock, the horror, and the nightmare continue to haunt my dreams).

I nearly drowned in my own chocolate milk. The little guy didn’t even break stride, turn around, or even acknowledge that he had just broken 12 different schools rules, committed at least a misdemeanor, compromised my personal space, and left me a shamed and broken man.

I looked around for an administrator so that I could file a grievance, charges, or just have this young person hunted down, but as usual they are never around when you need one (also I joke- I am the administrator).

The only adults in the vicinity who could have been of assistance were two teachers and I noticed they weren’t much help. This occurred to me as I saw them doubled over and laughing hysterically (not with me, but at me).

That made three people doubled over in the hallway on that particular morning (for those of you keeping score at home).

As I reflect on this incident, I have learned two valuable lessons.

One, I must always be on the lookout for trouble (especially below me). And two, don’t expect people to rush to your defense when a kindergartner smacks you in the chalk and erasers.

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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.