College.


Sunshine is Nice.

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5 Minute University.


If you are under 35 years of age, you’ve probably never heard of Father Guido Sarducci.

You may also be confused by his reference to a Polaroid camera.

His thoughts on college are funny because they are closer to the truth than we as educators would like to admit.

Enjoy.

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My Graduation Speech.


It’s that time of year where schools and universities pay a lot of money for bad graduation speeches.Life Stinks.

I want in on this.  I don’t think you have to be an alumni or a politician to bore people silly.

Plus, I could use the cash.  So, here we go.

Dear Students:

Congratulations on making it this far.  You thought high school and college was the best time of your life.

You were right.

Now the work begins.  If you can find it.

Adults in your life don’t tell you the whole truth, especially when you are graduating from high school or college.  They are just happy you are not in jail.

Plus, they love you.  They have to.  It’s the law.

They also don’t want to tell you the truth because they don’t want to watch you cry like a junior high boy

So I’m going to.

I’m not here to completely crush your hopes and dreams, but it’s probably going to happen so you might as well sit back and take it.

1).  Life stinks.

It’s hard and complicated.  Nothing about life even remotely resembles what you see on commercials or in vacation brochures.

Life isn’t a sitcom.  It’s a drama.  Or tragedy.  Depends on how lucky you get.

Your parents and grandparents have traveled a difficult path to get you here, so now it’s your turn.

Hold on, it’s going to be a bumpy road.

2).  Happiness.

Today you are happy.  There will be hugs.  And gifts.  And cake.

Tomorrow you will wake up unemployed and deeply in debt.

Happiness will have left the building.

This situation will improve for some of you.  Others will continue to wake up unemployed and deeper in debt for years to come.

I paid off my last student loan at the age of 35.  I got lucky.  That’s early.

Take my advice and expect the worse.  That way, if life doesn’t consistently kick you in the face you will be pleased.

Just for the record, anticipate a lot of face-kicking.

3).  Don’t Screw Things Up.

Just do what you are supposed to do.  Mow your yard.  Pay your bills (if you can find a job).  Be polite. Volunteer once in a while.  Don’t cheat on your taxes too much.

You will find yourself in the top 10% if you just pick up your trash and hold doors open for old ladies.

Don’t leave here thinking you are going to make the world a better place in the next 20 minutes. 

We don’t need more saviors.  We need solid citizens who don’t make things worse.

This sounds easy, but as you stumble through life look around and you’ll notice a lot of people who aren’t helping.

If you don’t believe me go to the mall and watch people walk by for 15 minutes and you will understand exactly what I’m saying.

4).  Get Married or Shack Up. 

I don’t care which one you do and I’m not here to judge.  I don’t care about your personal life because I have problems of my own (she’s 11 going on 37).

But when you do hitch your wagon to someone else try and pick someone you like.

Don’t do it for money.  Or looks.  Or so his or her dad will give you that job that you desperately need.

Marry (or not) a person who will make you smile 70 years from now.

Life is short, but bad relationships are forever.

There is nothing worse than eating breakfast with someone you want to stab in the eye with a fork (or so I’m told).

5).  Don’t Reproduce and Mate Smartly.

This is an important one.

If you are unemployed, in debt, immature, hung over, angry at your parents, wear sweat pants more than once a week, or dumb – please don’t think you have to bring children into this world.

They are lot of work.  And expensive.

Once you have them, the government won’t let you give them away (learned this one the hard way).

Life is a marathon not a sprint.  You don’t have to have children in your 20′s.  Or at all.

Just because people ask you "When are you having kids?" doesn’t mean you have to do it.  Most of the time they are just asking because they have children and want you to feel the pain and suffering they go through on a daily basis.

If you must reproduce, realize it is very likely you will be just as bad a parent as your mom and dad.

Think about this before you go to the bar and start hitting on another unemployed broke person.

Don’t create another human just so you can mess them up like your parents did you.  That’s not fair.

To you.  The child.  Or the rest of us.

7.  Your Parents.

They aren’t crying today because you are all grown up.  They are crying tears of joy.

They are tired of paying for you.  They want their house back.  And their lives.  They are tired of you tearing up their stuff. 

They no longer find a 2:00 am phone call from you amusing.  There is no such thing as a "minor" traffic accident when you are driving their car.

Look at them.  They used to be young and vibrate, then you showed up.  Now they are old and tired.

Tired of you.  Tired of your laundry.  Tired of your bills. 

Sure, they will say you are welcome to move back home until you get on your feet, but what they really want is you out of their hair and at least 2 hours away.

They only have a few good years left.  Don’t ruin it for them by mooching off them for the next decade.

Allowances are for kids.  Not 25 year olds.

You will know life is winning if you are sleeping in the same bed you occupied when you were nine.

Also, adults don’t have posters on their bedroom walls.

8).  Take Care of Your Health.

We are all day-to-day.

Life is short and soon you will be dead.  This is one of those things people won’t tell you.

But I guarantee you, not one person in this room will make it out of life alive.

Enjoy the few days or years you have left. 

Old people will constantly tell you life goes fast.  They’re right.

They didn’t get to be old by being stupid.

Certain days will drag on and on, but the weeks, months, and years fly by.  Faster than you can ever imagine.

The moments are precious.  In fact, as I stand here I’m asking myself why I wasted the last several minutes talking to you.

Slow down when you get a chance.  Don’t be in a hurry.  Take a nap at every opportunity, because this journey called life, while quick, is exhausting.

8).  Credit Cards.

Cut them up.  Pay cash.  Understand the difference between a want and a need.

Don’t try and keep up with the Jones’ down the street because it’s highly likely they are up to their….. in debt.

You don’t need a boat, horse, pool, motorcycle, 12 bathrooms, or a vacation home to be happy.

New cars are for suckers.  Never invest in a sure thing.  Stay out of Las Vegas.

Understand the stock market always drops.

Always save for a rainy day, because all of us are about 30 seconds away from a monsoon.

True happiness is not tensing up when the phone rings because you think it might be a bill collector.

True happiness is having at least $1 more at the end of the month than you need.

9).  Diplomas.

They mean nothing.

It’s a piece of paper.  A piece of paper you could have printed up for yourself 4 years ago (it’s called Photoshop people).

Life is about who you know and being in the right place at the right time.

Some of you will obtain doctorates and fail miserably.

Others of you will know people who dropped out of high school and have become quite successful.

Life isn’t fair. 

The sooner you figure this out, the better off you’ll be. 

Don’t be afraid to work.  No job is beneath you.

You don’t get a fancy office and a big title just because you cheated your way through school.

You get those things after you work hard, not before.

10).  Expectations.

Set them low.  Really low.

Hope for the best, but expect the absolute worst.

The odds of you being great aren’t good.

That takes luck.  And a job.  And more luck.

Set your sights on being mediocre.

Mediocre is fine.  Mediocre can make you very happy.

The world is full of mediocre people.  There is only one Bill Gates.  There’s lots of you.

In conclusion, I would like to share the secret to life. 

A wise old man once told me to "Show up and shut up."  I suggest you do the same.

Good luck.  You are going to need it.

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Best Friends.


I Miss Her.

What does Buddy the Dog do when his best friend stays all night with her best friend.

He waits.

And waits.

And waits.

And then gets in trouble for getting up on her bed (and for unmaking it).

And then he waits some more.

Someone’s heart is going to be broken when someone else goes away to college.

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College Was Better Than Work.


Having a job is a good thing (especially in this day and age).

Going to college was better. 

This is true for lots of reasons.

Starting with… you could make your own schedule in college.

No work hours to follow.  No contract to abide by.  No one to evaluate you (unless you count the professors).

College was great.My College.

Don’t want to get up early?  Schedule classes in the afternoon.

Want to be done early?  Schedule all of your classes in the morning.

Obsessive about The Price is Right and Hogan’s Heroes (guilty as charged)?  Don’t schedule anything from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm.

Want to be back in the dorm before MTV’s Remote Control comes on?

Just fake a disease or a head injury and leave class a little early.

College was great.

At work you have a dress code.  In college your fashion choice was shorts or sweatpants.

And you accessorized with a t-shirt (up until the late 90’s when this changed to the ever popular hoodie).

No ironing the night before.

No attempting to pick out a shirt and tie that almost match.

No living under society’s expectations of wearing socks that match.

At college, you slept in every day.  All you had to do was be up 2 1/2 minutes before class started (if you could run fast).

College was great.

At work you have bosses.

At college you had advisors (who invariably messed up your schedule).

Life seemed complicated in college, but in retrospect it really wasn’t.

College was great.

In college food was provided for you.  Swipe a card and it was all you could eat (which explains the Freshman 15… or 40).

No trips to the grocery store.  No cooking.  No cleaning up the kitchen (not that I know about any of these).

A long day in college was 4 classes in one day.

A long day at work is everyday.

College was the first opportunity to put some space between you and your parents.

Work (if you choose education) involves being around everyone’s parents.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the number one reason college was better than work.

I didn’t have to shave.

Not for days.  Or weeks.  Or even months.

Being in the grown up work world means I have to shave every day.

And I think that is easily the worst part of being an adult.

If I only knew then what I know now, I would have been far more appreciative of my time in college.

But like most people, I took it for granted.

I never really appreciated the fact I could control my own schedule, dress like a slob, and have someone else prepare my food.

And most importantly, not have to scrape my face every morning with a sharp piece of metal.

It was the 80’s after all… and stubble was cool.

And if you ask me, it still is (although I realize no one has asked me).

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How I Became a Teacher.


5 Reasons (That Aren’t Completely True).

5 Reasons (That Aren’t Completely True).

The answer to the title of this blog is quite simple.

How I got there is a little more complicated.

This spring, the 2009 crop of high school seniors will graduate (barring any last minute mistakes on their part… and I am watching). As educators we want these students to have a plan.

An exact detailed step by step plan of what they are going to do with their lives from this point forward.

From my experience most 18 year olds don’t think any farther ahead than approximately 4 minutes into the future (of course 4 minutes is an average, boys would be less… much much less… and as someone who has a daughter, this is a bit frightening).

Teachers (as do I) are always asking students what they are going to do with their lives once they graduate.

College, military, or get a job. 3 choices.

As educators, we seem to prefer they pick college. I assume that’s because college is the path we took (I am also aware of what happens when you assume).

We want them to choose from these 3 choices and stick with it. For the next 50 years.

I am not sure of the logic behind this because most of us had no idea what we wanted to do when we were 18 (17 in my case… which was way too young to be making any decisions not involving cheeseburgers, sports, or a Def Leppard concert).

I often wonder if we have unrealistic expectations for graduating seniors. After all, most will change their minds in the first 6 months after they leave high school.

Sometimes, I think they just give us the answer we want to hear regarding their future plans.

As I stumble through life I think about this as I meet people.

Did the guy at the gas station always have the dream to sell me PowerAde and donuts?

Is the lady at the dry cleaners living out her lifelong goal of ironing shirts for 9 hours a day?

How long has the UPS driver who delivers to my house wanted to drive a truck and wear an ugly brown uniform (although wearing shorts to work in the summer is a pretty nice benefit)?

I point out these examples not to take anything away from them. All of these people seem both happy and nice (goals that we should all have).

They are everyday people who do every day jobs. Obviously, by our way of thinking they must not have had a specific plan when they were seniors in high school.

And that’s okay.

They are good people who have jobs. More importantly they are good citizens who are making society better, not worse.

We all interact with people who probably aren’t pursuing their high school dream job.

In fact, I am one of them.

My plan wasn’t to be a school administrator who writes semi-coherent blogs.

Yes, I know you are shocked. Please take a moment a compose yourself.

My plan when I was a high school senior was… actually, I didn’t have a plan. But I told the people who asked that I did.

My goal, up to that point, was to play major league baseball. It turned out I wasn’t good enough. Who knew (other than the college and professional scouts)?

That is how I ended up going to college and getting a business degree. Why college and a business degree? I have no idea.

Like most teenagers I just picked something so adults would stop asking me.

Plus, it was the mid 80’s and Michael Douglas seemed really cool in the movie Wall Street.

The good news…I graduated. The bad news…after 4 years of college I was again getting asked what I wanted to do with my life.

I remember thinking that I just went through this whole “pick a career” thing a few years earlier. What a vicious circle.

So I took jobs that in which I didn’t really have any interest (when I could find them). Then I woke up when I was 26 and got really lucky.

I knew how to throw a curveball (evidently, just not a good one).

Actually, I had known how to throw a curveball since I was 12, but it took awhile for this skill to become useful.

My curveball wasn’t good enough to get me into the majors, but it did get me a job as an assistant junior high baseball coach.

One of my old coaches needed help and I knew how to throw a curveball.

After a few practices, it didn’t take me long to figure out that I liked kids, school, sports, coaches, and summers off.

If you count 26 years as not long.

So I went back to college with an actual plan. And when I told people what I wanted to do with my life I actually meant it.

And that’s how I became a teacher.

Which has led to everything else.

I wish I could have told my high school teachers this story when I was a senior. My life plan is going to be based on the skills I learned in Little League.

And that will eventually lead to me writing a blog about education.

From now on, I may just tell high school seniors that life has a funny way of just working out.

**Note from wife…I got pretty lucky too. You see he was graduating college with that business degree when I was in 8th grade. Obviously that would have been an awkward romantic relationship. When PrincipalsPage decided to return to college I was a sophomore who just so happened to be in the same history class. The rest really is history!

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The Snow Day Has Violated Me.


Snow Days Used to be so Peaceful.The glorious snow day used to be an all day celebration of sleeping in, overeating, watching bad TV, and taking at least 3 coma-like naps.

Now it is dead to me.

I can’t look at it, speak of it, or think about it.

I have been crossed and jilted for the last time. I feel dirty and used. I am not going to lie, I could use a shower.

You see, I used to be in charge of our snow day schedule.

I decided what time we rolled over in bed and turned on the television. I decided that we finally needed to shower around 4 in the afternoon. I even helped make the traditional dinner of freshly baked brownies covered by vanilla ice cream and chocolate syrup (aka: a Hot and Cold Treat… if you haven’t tried it, you should).

As a snow day came to an end, I would decide when we needed to put our belly aches to bed. Often times it was around 7:30 pm (you can’t nap that long while mixing in bowls and bowls of junk food without getting stomach cramps…and the only thing that will fix stomach cramps is 12 straight hours of shut-eye).

Now these powers that I cherished for so long have been ripped away from me.

Ruling the snow day was my last bastion of power.

My reign is over.

The one I helped create has tossed me aside like a piece of trash.

My daughter is now in charge.

It started yesterday when she woke up shortly after 9:00 am. Within 2 minutes of crawling out of bed and making her way to the couch, she announced “I’m bored.”

I should have recognized that by making this statement she was insane, but I didn’t.

The look in her eyes should have told me I was dealing with a full blown case of the crazies, but admittedly I am a little slow on the uptake.

I compounded my mistake by engaging her in conversation.

I simply should have walked away, but I didn’t.

Being the genius I am, I asked what she wanted to do.

She certainly has lots of options: TV, Wii, books, coloring, crafting, going outside, playing games on the computer… the list goes on and on.

Of course all of these are boring. She is living the life I could have only dreamed of, but 2 minutes into a snow day she is bored out of her mind. Must have been nothing to watch on the 842 TV stations that I provide for her.

Her solution. Have a friend over.

What?

Did she just say what I think she said?

Having loser friends over is not on the list of pre-approved, very quiet and restful snow day activities. What happened to watching Regis? Or more importantly, watching Kelly? Or spending an hour catching up on the sad an pathetic life of an 80’s hair band?

Did they all waste their money on cheap beer and cold women (or vice versa)?

I thought we had an understanding in this house.

All of a sudden it is like the Wild West. Every man and child fighting for the snow day power.

What was wrong with bad TV, naps, and Hot and Cold Treats? We had a system. I though everyone was happy. And by everyone, of course I mean me.

But, it gets worse.

In her crazy power grab, she decided that 1 friend running/screaming around our house wasn’t annoying enough. She needed 2 friends to help her break out of her abyss of boredom.

This is a child who revels in the fact that she doesn’t have any brothers or sisters. She doesn’t want one because they might touch her stuff or change the channel as she watches the same SpongeBob episode for the 57th time.

And yet, she wants friends over all the time.

This doesn’t seem fair to me.

At least if they were my kids I could punish them. Or smack them upside the head when their mother wasn’t looking.

Needless to say she won this battle. And now that I think about it, every other battle.

So this became my snow day.

Dodging three 2nd graders who spent 6 straights hours of running and screaming. And screaming and running.

Most of the time they weren’t even running after each other or screaming for a reason. Just indescribable movement and noise.

I don’t mind admitting that my ears are sore.

The sad part: I am paid good money at school to keep hundreds of children under control.

Rule #1 – no running and no screaming.
Rule #2 – see Rule #1

Yet at my house these simple rules are mocked. And I am in charge of nothing.

So my lifelong friend the snow day has left me forever. Or at least until my daughter and renegade friends leave for college.

In the meantime, I hope we have school tomorrow. I need the peace and quiet.

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Life has a Funny Way of Choosing a Career for You.


I'm Still Searching for My Career.Every winter, I find myself asking our juniors and seniors what their plans are after (if, in some cases) they graduate.

Generally, I get the same answers; college, work, the military, get married, or the #1 most popular response… I don’t know.

As adults, whether we are administrators, guidance counselors, teachers, or parents; we all want a specific answer and an even more detailed plan on how students will accomplish their goals and become productive members of society.

We don’t want to send them into the future and have them change their mind 27 times (that being said, you know a lot of people go to college for 7 years… they are called doctors- Google it).

We want young people to pick a path in life and then stick to it.

This is well-intentioned advice, but how often does anyone pick a career in high school, and then actually stay with it for 40 years?

When I was in high school, my plan was… well I didn’t actually have a plan.

Come to think about it, I still don’t (mental note… come up with a career goal so that I can stop flopping around through life like a newly caught bluegill thrown onto the shore).

By the way, I think that was my first fishing reference (you have to admit…it was just a matter of time).

One of my greatest achievements in life is that I have never really looked for a job. Opportunities just seem to find me. If you are thinking that makes me kind of pathetic and extremely lucky… I would have to agree.

It does bring some excitement to my life. My anticipation builds as I wait until my next job finds me. Keep your fingers crossed, I am hoping for greens-keeper, neurosurgeon, typewriter repairman, or Mike Rowe’s sidekick.

Regrettably, I spend more time reading about career advice, then actually doing anything about it (pick a career blog… there are about a 1,000 of them).

As educators, we seem to push kids towards getting a four year college education. I think maybe because that was our plan (those of you who actually had one).

This is good advice, but lots of people are successful without graduating from college.

It doesn’t concern me if my plumber, mechanic, or cable guy didn’t do that well in high school Chemistry or English 4 class, or have a college education.

They have skills that I don’t. Sadly, they also probably did better than me in Chemistry and English, but that is not my point.

I often wonder if it is unrealistic to expect a 17 year old to have a plan. Most of them think the future is what will happen at lunch or right after school.

To expect them to map out a long term career goal while still a teenager seems like wishful thinking on our part.

I meet people everyday who are great at their jobs, but I don’t think they are necessarily working in a career that they considered in high school.

They probably had some idea of what they wanted to do after graduating, but life has a way of pushing us towards what we are meant to do.

Everyone’s career choice is much more complicated than meeting with the guidance counselor 3rd period and choosing one out of a book.

Money, relationships, children, health, etc. often send people into a career that they hadn’t thought of at the time of their high school graduation.

I think we might be better off having a system that has kids work in different vocational areas during high school which would give them options and ideas.

Then we could send them all to college for a year or two without having them declare a major.

That should be enough time and life experience to allow them to make educated decisions on their career paths.

Now that I have this educational problem solved, I think I will search the internet for a new car.

I’ve heard that neurosurgeons make really good money.

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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.